Venom Let There Be Carnage is bombastic, funny, action-packed, silly, and at times, jarring— creating a fun, yet uneven, experience. A popcorn movie in every sense of the word.
Directed by Andy Serkis, and starring Tom Hardy as the titular character, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a spectacle. Now when using the word spectacle, it’s meant in a circus show way than an awe-inspiring one. Retreading on much of what made the first movie financially successful, the 2021 sequel doubles down on the silliness, fast-paced action, and the dynamic between Eddie Brock and Venom. For all the moments that this film works, Tom Hardy must be given the lion’s share of the credit.
Hardy’s performance makes Venom work in a way he hasn’t before in live-action. Playing both the man and monster, Hardy is just having a blast from start to finish. Clearly, he cares about the character, and the comfort gained after the first movie shows off well here. In what are many ways a love affair between the two characters, the majority of the movie is centered on their friendship and how it evolves and devolves throughout the movie. While their character arc is all too predictable and the scriptwriting for them leaves much to be desired, Hardy makes it work and Venom is still a hilariously engaging character.
Unfortunately, more has to be said about the writing and pacing of this film. Andy Serkis is a good director and there are shades of his brilliance in the film, but more often than not, Venom: Let There Be Carnage feels producer-driven, rehashing plot points from the first movie and creating scenarios simply for a quick joke or call-back from the original film. The pacing of the film is also lightning fast, with the 90 minutes going by in roller-coaster fashion. Certain plot elements, such as Eddie Brock’s newfound success as a journalist or the villain’s backstory occur in such a jarring fashion that whiplash would be an understatement. The script and screenplay overall reminded me of an early 2000s superhero movie where characters would say very on-the-nose things to foreshadow who they are or run into cliches that are almost hallmark movies reminiscent. In this aspect, the first movie is superior.
Ultimately, fans and audiences know exactly what they are coming for when they watch a movie with both Venom and Carnage in the title. You’re here to watch Venom and Carnage fight in a VFX battle. It is here that the film indeed delivers. Woody Harrelson’s Carnage is brutal, violent, and truly lives up to his name. The character provides an excellent foe for Venom to fight, something he doesn’t do for much of the movie, with his powers mostly being used for gags and jokes. The final battle, however, is quite good. Well-choreographed, good set design, and fun action lead the way here and will satisfy even those who did not enjoy the ride up to this point.
Of course, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is also about building a universe and combining multiple characters from the Spider-Man world together. Fans should expect surprises and neat visual foreshadowing for what’s to come but rest assured, we haven’t seen the last of Tom Hardy as Venom.
Ultimately, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is popcorn fun. Brilliant visual effects and strong action sequences are the names of its game. While Tom Hardy is great as Venom, unfortunately, the jarringly fast pace, baffling writing, and an uneven story prevent it from truly being a worthy sequel.