Hilarious ‘Venom’ sequel lacks firepower


Three years after the eccentric “Venom” offended and captivated audiences with its unique humor, the anti-hero film is back for more in “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.”

A year and a half has passed since the events in the last film. Venom, the alien symbiote, is still living inside his host, journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy). At this point, the pair are like an old married couple, constantly arguing over the simplest of things.

Unfortunately for Eddie, his life has gone a bit downhill since meeting Venom. His ex-fiance, Anne (Michelle Williams), has met someone new and is engaged. Meanwhile, his professional life has unraveled about as much as his personal life.

He catches a break, however, when Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), a serial killer on death row, requests to meet with Eddie. In exchange for an interview, Kasady will review where he buried the bodies of several victims. 

Eddie publishes the interview and gains much of his credibility back, but it comes at a price. In a second interview with Kasady, Venom’s rage takes over and he attacks Kasady, only for Kasady to bite Eddie’s hand to control the alien symbiote.

Before Kasady’s execution, the blood from Venom transfers to his body and he now has an alien symbiote living inside of him. He looks like Venom, but he’s red and goes by the name of Carnage. Mix in a serial killer with a blood-thirsty alien symbiote and it spells trouble for everyone.

Kasady and Carnage make a deal: if they break into a psychiatric facility to free Kasady’s longtime lover, Frances Barrison/Shriek (Naomie Harris), who has screaming powers to eliminate her enemies, they can take out the only two foes who can stop them: Eddie and Venom.

Before that confrontation, Eddie and Venom have their own issues to work out. If they’re going to prevent Kasady and Carnage from utter destruction and hurting those they love, they’re going to have to work together again and set their differences aside before it’s too late.

For a film that has Carnage in its title, you’d expect there to be a little more, well, carnage. For every action scene, there are double and triple the amount of scenes of Venom and Eddie arguing over mostly senseless material that have no bearing on the film’s plot.

That’s not necessarily a detriment to the film, though. Director Andy Serkis is smart enough to know that Tom Hardy holds the keys to the film’s success. Hardy’s distinct voice portrayal of Venom, and the one-liners and zingers he throws at Hardy’s Eddie throughout the entirety of the film, are irresistible for audiences to devour.

Harrelson is also perfectly cast as the cold and sadistic Kasady. No stranger to portraying unconventional characters, he matches Hardy’s enthusiasm for the role every step of the way, and it looks like the two are having a blast together.

There are some films that you just have to turn your brain off and enjoy a good laugh at the absurdity playing on-screen. This “Venom” sequel is as irreverent as the first one, it will question your intelligence and it will undoubtedly leave you bewildered more often than not.

But it will also make you laugh and entertain you for a brisk 97 minutes. Add that to a post-credits scene that promises the best is yet to come, and there are far worse films you can let in than “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.”

Grade: C+


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