Symbiotic No More

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By Paul Hall

Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is back with his symbiote Venom along for the ride in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, a sequel to the 2018 release Venom. For those who don’t remember, Venom is an alien symbiote who needs to attach to a human to survive and thrive. Eddie and Venom have come together and have a love/hate relationship that allows them to live as one.

Eddie still has a lot of explaining to do for much of the craziness that has circled his orbit. Venom has caused a lot of chaos in Eddie’s world, but Detective Mulligan (Stephen Graham) enlists his help as serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) has requested an audience with Eddie. The detective hopes that Eddie can get some info that helps the officers discover new insights on Cletus’ case. Cletus, of course, has other plans and needs Eddie to get his message to an audience. Eddie obliges Cletus’ request and Venom does his own research, setting up a struggle between the reporter and the criminal. Venom is clear — he does not like Cletus one bit.

One last encounter between Eddie and Cletus brings another symbiote to life in the form of Carnage, who attaches to Cletus. This alien being does not like Venom, and since Cletus doesn’t like Eddie, the venom between our principals is deadly.

When Venom was released in 2018, it added a very different element to the superhero landscape, a violent and aggressive antihero who is full of flaws and despicable elements. The combination of Eddie and Venom is not the easiest to cheer for in our story. As in that original release, the filmmakers attempt to temper the harsh elements of the film with humor, but those attempts tend to fall short. Humor is lacking and the jokes miss the mark as Venom tries to explain his behavior.

Hardy does his best to manage in his return as Eddie, but everything just feels a bit boring with the character.

There are not enough toe-to-toe moments between Hardy and Harrelson. With the casting of such a charismatic and unique individual as Harrelson, I had hoped for more of a cat-and-mouse matchup, but alas the story didn’t bring the two together nearly as much.

Michelle Williams and Naomie Harris are wasted. Both roles are minimized and not allowed any depth to expand their characters. I wish Harris could have been allowed to shine and become a truly memorable character; there was definitely something there for her.

While the original found a way to attach itself to me with humor that worked and an antihero I enjoyed, Carnage falls short of a symbiotic connection with this critic.

Paul’s Grade: C+

Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Rated PG-13
Stars: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris
Director: Andy Serkis