Venom film review: damning with fine praise

Venom: Let There be Carnage is the second installment of the Venom films.

By Seth Lukas Hynes

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Starring Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson and Naomie Harris

Rated M

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is another fun but sloppy action-comedy about living with an alien.

Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), who is the host for a symbiotic alien named Venom, gets tangled up with serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson).

As with the 2018 first film, Eddie and Venom’s odd-couple relationship forms the film’s entertaining core. Eddie wants to rebuild his life, while Venom wants more independence and to eat bad guys, and it’s amusing and even endearing to watch them clash, confront their differences and admit that they care for each other. Venom’s arc even has a hilarious scene of pride and unlikely acceptance in a night-club.

While strangely bloodless for a main character who bites people’s heads off, the action sequences are well-composed and make good use of geography (as opposed to the incomprehensible final fight in the first film) and convey a clear sense of struggle, which you know I consider essential in good action.

Let There Be Carnage is more cohesive than the first film, but it’s far from streamlined.

Kasady’s connection with Eddie is wafer-thin, and his characterisation is a mess, awkwardly combining unrepentant sociopath and abused victim tropes. Classy, folksy serial killers are a tired cliché, and Kasady and his underdeveloped love interest Barrison (Naomie Harris) lack the depth to elevate this cliché (and share some very contrived dialogue).

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is undeniably fun and better than the first film, but the main characters are better than the messy whole.

– Seth Lukas Hynes