Venom: Let There Be Carnage was an uneven ride that I needed a bit to figure out a way to sum up. I finally settled on calling it a hyperviolent version of the Odd Couple meets superhuman Bonnie and Clyde. Then, when I started researching the movie for this review, I saw that director Andy Serkis drew inspiration from, among other things, The Odd Couple, and I was very amused. I’d say the movie was solidly average, but the end scene was stunningly surprising.
The movie starts with, and has a lot of, Eddie Brock and Venom arguing. They really don’t get along all that well, and the apartment shows the scars of their constant arguments. Them not getting evicted for all the constant damage, shouting, and crashing is just one of the not-quite-believable bits of the movie. Also, despite it being obvious that some time has passed since the first movie, Eddie is doing a bad job of covering for Venom’s outbursts, and seems almost surprised each time it happens. The man doesn’t learn well.
The major plot of the movie is that serial killer Cletus Kassidy has some kind of fascination with Eddie Brock, and wants an interview. If they ever explained the source of this fixation, I missed it. They have a little bit of a cat and mouse scene, and then later, Venom is actually useful for more than just smashing things as he picked up details from Kassidy’s cell and proves to be quite an artist. That particular bit was funny, points where they are due. The main subplot, continuing from the first movie, is Eddie’s failed relationship with Anne Weying, who is now moving further away from him in her new relationship, saddening Eddie and enraging Venom.
Eddie and Venom make a major discovery and get a lot of media attention, helping Eddie’s career and spelling bad things for Kassidy. We also see in some early flashbacks that Kassidy was in some kind of orphanage from an early age, and fell in love with a young powered girl, who is loosely based on a different symbiote from Marvel Comics. Her story improbably links with Detective Mulligan, Eddie’s ally/antagonist depending on the scene. Just before a major event for Kassidy, there’s another interview and an origin story that sort of explains how Kassidy goes from crazed serial killer to supervillain.
Things kick into high gear after they put all the pieces in place, and there’s emotional drama, a kind of bad breakup, lots and lots of CGI violence, and bits and pieces of the Venom mythos transplanted from New York to California. There are spots of humor, a few inexplicable changes in motivation/action by some characters, and a lot of vengeance fantasies carried out and massive property damage. In the end, due to some unexpected help from an unlikely source, the good guys (better guys?) win, Eddie and Venom start getting on better, and things are looking up for the bonded pair.
I always try and avoid spoilers, and I’ll do that here, but I will say this. There is an end credit scene. It’s really surprising and worth staying for. And it has some very interesting possibilities for some upcoming movies. While I found a lot of the movie mediocre, the end scene is almost worth the admission right there.
What I liked: It was a decent comic book movie. Woody Harrelson seemed to have fun with his role as Carnage/Kassidy. There were some decent bits of humor, and it certainly wasn’t short on action. The end scene was fantastic. One scene with Anne was kind of amusing as she babbled in the background about something.
What I didn’t: There were a few plot holes. Parts of this movie felt like it needed fine tuning, and I got an idea as to possibly why during the credits. Andy Serkis is a fine actor, but maybe he wasn’t ready for being a director? Or, quite possibly, his direction suffered from a lot of editing choices. This was a very short movie, and I’m not sure that was his intent. Also, Tom Hardy, who plays Eddie/Venom, had a “story by” credit, which is very hit or miss with actors writing their own roles. It worked wonderfully well for Paul Rudd in Ant-Man and Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool 2, and considerably less well for Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk and, at the risk of speaking ill of the dead, Christopher Reeve in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
I’m going to split my rating. I’ll give the movie itself a 2.5 out of 5. It had a lot of potential but didn’t feel like it quite lived up to it. The end scene I’ll give a 4 out of 5 to, both for what they did and what they hint at.
There was at least one scene late in the movie that set up for another one. I’ll probably watch it, but I can’t claim I’m looking forward to it the way I do some others.