So I had an idea way back when the original Venom debuted in 2018. And that idea still applies in 2021 for Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Both movies were released in October, right around New York Comic-Con. In my musings, I came up with a brilliant PR stunt. Why not have Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock cover New York Comic-Con? Let him run around in a sweat-stained sweatshirt, talking to con-goers while occasionally talking to himself like a madman? Brilliant idea, right? Like, that’s headline-worthy stuff right there!
But a stunt like that could really only work with a series like Venom. It’s not a traditional superhero movie, and not simply due to Venom not really being a hero. It’s also because stylistically, Venom felt like a movie that would have been extremely popular if it was released in the mid-2000s. That was the age of emo, goths, and where most franchises got EDGY and DARK. But it worked… for the most part. It had some issues, but I still walked away from it with a smile on my face.
If Venom was a superhero movie that should have been released in the mid-2000s, Venom: Let There Be Carnage feels like it should have been released in the late-90s. I’m not sure if that’s entirely a good thing.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Director: Andy Serkis
Release Date: October 1, 2021 (Theatrical)
Sometime after the events of the first film, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) has managed to get his life back together despite living with a space parasite that has a taste for flesh. He’s able to score an interview with a deranged serial killer by the name of Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), but after a brief encounter with the lunatic, he’s able to absorb some of Brock’s symbiote via his blood and develops his own that goes by the name of Carnage. The two break out of jail with Kasady vowing to rescue his childhood sweetheart, Shriek (Naomie Harris), from an insane asylum and to kill Eddie and Venom.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a movie that barrels through from the word go. Throughout the movie, information is just thrown at the audience that we’re meant to accept and never question. How did Eddie get his life back together? How does Carnage have computer hacking abilities? Why is Venom suddenly an ace detective? Why is it such a big deal to Venom that Carnage “is a red [symbiote]?” None of that matters as the movie steamrolls over any and all attempts at an overarching plot.
That isn’t as big of a problem as you may think because Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a movie that mostly focuses on the dynamic between Venom and Eddie. Now that they’ve been living together, their relationship has solidified and their interactions are the highlight of the film. They bicker and argue like an old married couple which the movie shoves in your face at every chance it gets. At first, the obvious homoeroticism can be funny, but it grows tiresome pretty quickly and goes in directions that seem pointless. There’s a scene partway through the film where Venom goes to a nightclub and basically rants like a drunk about how he’s “out of the Eddie closet” and free to be the symbiote he always wanted to be. I think the point of it was to be funny, but it just felt like needless padding.
And Venom, himself, is probably going to be the make-or-break character in here. Venom feels the need to quip and comment about everything. At times it can be fun but man, oh man does Venom wear out his welcome quickly. If you’ve ever played a video game where someone tries to backseat game you, it’s that exact feeling. Even while other characters are in mid-sentence, Venom has something to say and it’s just plain grating. It feels like Venom: Let There Be Carnage is insecure about itself being so short (the film clocks in at just over 90 minutes) that it overcompensates by stuffing itself with quick jokes to provide the illusion of content.
Even thinking like that, there’s simply a lot of content missing from this movie. There’s really only one fight scene in the entire film, and it’s the one at the climax. It’s a solid one, but the film is missing a lot of beats getting to that point. There should have been more time to flesh out characters like Kasady and Shriek, who barely amount to more than a villain of the week for Venom to take down. It would be interesting to see a Director’s Cut of this movie when it releases because I’m almost certain that with an extra 15 or 20 minutes, I’d be much more favorable to the film.
Without getting into any major spoilers about the mid-credits sequence, it most definitely got me excited for the future of this franchise. I’m all in for whatever may happen next, but that doesn’t really equate to me being excited about a potential Venom 3. There’s a new status quo for our deadly duo at the end of the film and while it’s an interesting one, given how rushed Venom: Let There Be Carnage was, I can’t say I’m all that eager to see where it goes from here.
What worked in the original Venom still works here. It’s a decent action movie with Tom Hardy having a blast in the role. The darker tone is fresh compared to the sterilized polish of the MCU and I’ll gladly take a movie that tries to take risks versus one that plays it safe. I’m just not sure that all of these risks paid off. The extra time with Venom will leave audiences divided and the shorter runtime really does harm the overall package. Venom: Let There Be Carnage isn’t necessarily a disappointment, but it’s certainly underwhelming.