Journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) has been leading something of an unconventional life as he allows the symbiote Venom to co-exist within his body. The pair often tussle over diet and matters of the heart. But Venom proves useful as he’s able to figure out Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), an incarcerated serial killer who will only allow Brock to interview him. Cletus gets his own symbiote, Carnage, and together they escape prison. Now only Brock and Venom can take the pair out.
The plot summary of ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ doesn’t exactly sound like a romantic comedy, but trust us when we say the humour, the narrative, and ultimate resolution are all there. Director Andy Serkis (yes, Gollum directs now) clearly took notes from what made the first ‘Venom’ popular as he delivers plenty of Venom railing on Eddie and Tom Hardy acting maniacal. Additionally, the sequel has that same haphazard pacing and nervous energy that characterised its predecessor.
The strength of ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ is undeniably in that push and pull relationship between Venom and Brock, with many laughs to be had as the parasite talks back and voices what Eddie is keeping locked inside. They argue about morality (after all, Venom is a villain, so how good can he ultimately be in a superhero movie?) and diet (Venom is cannibalistic but Brock makes him eat chickens, though Venom argues bad guys should be fair game). There’s an old married couple vibe not just in the dialogue but also their actions, for example, Venom makes Brock breakfast and sings ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’ one morning to him when he’s upset.
Woody Harrelson, oddly enough, seems to be the straight madman, acting as an opposite to Eddie, and getting out-crazied by Naomie Harris as Frances Barrison. Harrelson’s performance feels almost too subtle and pulled back, one wishing he’d just go all out. The bad guy setup that opens the movie is very typical, and final showdown ends suddenly. There are a couple of nice nods to ‘Natural Born Killers’ here, but it doesn’t have that ‘Face/Off’ vibe that promos for the movie seemed to indicate.
The jokes can feel a bit lame and forced, but a lot of the one liners land, as we get an insight into the most toxic relationship to be brought to the big screen since ‘The Break-Up’. The movie plays out rather predictably, and has plot holes, but then such is this genre. For all Marvel’s talk that ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ would be the first superhero rom com (it wasn’t all that romantic, or funny), we think this may actually be it.