Home Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (15)

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Stephen Graham, Naomie Harris
Genre: Action
Author(s): Kelly Marcel
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Release Date: 15/10/2021
Running Time: 97mins
Country: US
Year: 2021

Investigative journalist Eddie Brock shares his body with a carnivorous extra-terrestrial parasite called Venom, which gifts him incredible powers. He visits serial killer Cletus Kasady in secure confinement before a planned execution by lethal injection. The inmate bites Eddie and part of Venom courses into the psychopath's body, giving birth to the symbiote Carnage. Cletus agrees to work with Carnage to break out of San Quentin prison and eliminate Venom.


LondonNet Film Review
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (15)

There is unquestionably eye-popping carnage in Andy Serkis’s rowdy Marvel Comics sequel, not to mention sabotage, outrage and psychological and collateral damage. However, a barrage of dizzying digital effects coupled with a shortage of originality in action sequences condemns Venom: Let There Be Carnage to the realms of the distinctly average. Serkis’s picture is a marginal improvement on the 2018 origin story of one of Spider-Man’s most fearsome adversaries, earning decent laughs from the odd couple dynamic of a carnivorous extra-terrestrial symbiote sharing the body of a down-on-his-luck investigative journalist…

One throwaway sequence of man and monster enjoying breakfast with their house chickens Sonny and Cher in a cosy San Francisco apartment perfectly demonstrates this sweet disharmony. Tom Hardy’s guttural growl as the titular antihero has lightened since the first film and he relishes pithy one-liners in Kelly Marcel’s script, which we hear reverberating in the journalist’s head like a demented internal monologue. Once the predictable plot kicks in, unveiling a deadly new symbiote, there is a slow, inexorable build to one of those cacophonous final showdowns that have become a tiresome trademark of films stabled in the Marvel Comics cinematic universe.

Investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy) struggles to keep a tight rein on Venom’s violent impulses. “You live in my body, you live by my rules,” he reminds the predatory symbiote. They work together to solve the mystery of where serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrison) has buried victims’ remains, finally bringing peace to grieving families and stealing the thunder of San Francisco police detective Patrick Mulligan (Stephen Graham). Eddie visits Cletus in San Quentin prison for an exclusive interview, shortly before a planned execution by lethal injection, and the inmate bites Eddie’s hand.

A fragment of Venom transfers into the psychopath’s body, giving birth to rival Carnage. Cletus colludes with his otherworldly parasite to break out of confinement and discover the fate of childhood sweetheart Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris), who he met at St Estes Reform School 25 years ago. Meanwhile, Eddie suffers the continuing heartbreak of losing old flame Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) to dependable nice guy Dan Lewis (Reid Scott).

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is most satisfying when director Serkis savours the internal tug-of-war between Eddie and Venom. Hardy clearly has fun in these scenes, fighting with himself on screen, until the eponymous symbiote breaks free and explores Halloween-time San Francisco with a defiant roar: “I’m coming out of the Eddie closet!”

Frenetic editing reduces chases and bombastic fight sequences to an incomprehensible blur of digital trickery and wanton destruction even with Carnage’s body and tentacles coloured red to distinguish them from Venom’s charcoal skin when the two creatures go head-to-head. The obligatory end credits sequence teases the web-slinging wonder of Spider-Man: No Way Home in December.

– Jo Planter


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