Film review: Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021), directed by Andy Serkis
tl;dr: Doesn’t take itself seriously, is a quick and fun popcorn film.
In the first Venom film, we followed investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and how he came to be the host of an alien symbiote calling itself Venom. By the time of the sequel, their relationship is a little frayed at the edges. Eddie won’t let Venom do all the things he wants to do – mostly because they involve eating other people alive. Eddie is trying to piece his life back together, and while Venom still holds out for a reunion with ex-fiancée Anne (Michelle Williams), she’s moved on to the point where she’s now engaged to Dan (Reid Scott), a doctor.
Meanwhile, serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) is rotting away in prison awaiting execution, and says he’ll only talk to Eddie. Detective Mulligan (Stephen Graham) asks Eddie to interview him. Long story short, Kasady provokes Venom to come out and bite him, Kasady gets “infected” by a tiny bit of Venom and grows his own symbiote, Carnage. Kasady then breaks out of prison in search of his long lost lover, Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris), who has been in a maximum security mental asylum since 1996, keeping her superpowers restricted.
Absolute carnage ensues.
First of all, it’s funny how many Brits are involved in this: Hardy, Graham, Harris, Serkis …
Second, Mrs Chen (Peggy Lu) is great, and Venom’s brief stint of inhabiting her is very amusing. Venom has brief stints inhabiting a bunch of people in this film, after an argument with Eddie. Turns out even alien symbiotes can get rather stroppy!
We’re no strangers to seeing Harrelson playing kooky characters, and it’s great to see Harris playing something different, because her characters (as far as I’m aware) are usually fairly straight-laced – with the exception of Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean.
This is a film that knows not to take itself too seriously. It knows it’s really only meant to be a bit of silly fun you can munch popcorn to, and it delivers on that. It’s only 97 minutes long, but had it been longer it would probably have just felt like it was dragging on. Instead, it’s all action all the way, never a dull moment, and for this kind of film that’s exactly what you want. Throw in a good dose of humour in there, and you also get a really funny film.
We saw this shortly before or after Wonder Woman 1984, so you can make the comparison that Venom 2 does what WW 84 didn’t, i.e. cut out the unnecessary bits to only leave the good stuff. This leave little time to dwell on things, but it’s the kind of film that only sets out to entertain and because of the relatively simple job description, it manages to do a great job of it. The Venom sequel is fun and I kind of want to see the first one again now, even though Stephen Graham isn’t in it. Stephen Graham was a really nice surprise, as I didn’t actually know he was in it before we started watching, and he’s always great.
4 out of 5 church bells a-ringing.