Venom: Let There Be Carnage
2021, PG-13, 90 min. Directed by Andy Serkis. Starring Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham.
REVIEWED By Sarah Jane, Fri., Oct. 8, 2021
Let’s get this out of the way right now. Venom: Let There be Carnage is, objectively, not a good movie. It’s trying to be two different things, a comic book movie about a man and his alien symbiote and a rom-com. Yes, it is. The main reason the movie is enjoyable is because of the different romantic groups and their relationships. Andy Serkis (imagine this writer’s surprise to see his name in the credits after forgetting he was attached) has made a movie that pretends to be about comic book characters and their fighty stuff but that isn’t quite what you get.
Tom Hardy, who looks as though he’s literally turning into a human Tater Tot, is back as Eddie Brock/Venom, investigative journalist extraordinaire and carnivorous crime fighter. Woody Harrelson, channeling Mickey Cox, is Cletus Kasady/Carnage. He’s on death row for a bunch of murders a long time ago and wants to be friends with Eddie. Eddie isn’t having any of it and Venom, well, Venom would rather move to Cabot Cove and open up a detective agency with Eddie. Eddie is still in love with Anne (Williams), of course, and even though she doesn’t want to admit it, she still loves Eddie even though she’s with Dan (Scott). Oh, Dan. Poor sweet Dan. So, see, this is a rom-com, right? Right? Witty banter, comedic tension, romance, conflict … it’s all there. That’s before even considering the other group relationship in the movie. Because there is one. Cletus loves Frances (Harris) somethin’ real fierce. Has done for years. Their relationship is rather Cronenbergian at times: cars, wreckage, ecstasy sans James Spader.
Look, for a romantic comedy there is a lot of action. In between the longing glances, the throwing each other about, the outstretched writhing of sinewy, slimy, red tentacles, fights actually do break out. Honestly, the fighting was about all the lovers anyway. Tom Hardy has a story credit here and it’s clear he’s absolutely desperate to make a sweet little movie where he can be charming and delightful but with not so many explosions and dodgy special effects.
Sometimes, it's just chaos. There is a point when the audience realizes Eddie Brock is wearing Eddie Murphy’s signature “Axel Foley” outfit from Beverly Hills Cop. He’s got on the Mumford Phys. Ed. Dept. T-shirt, Detroit Lions varsity jacket, and even the Adidas shoes. What?! At another point during the final battle, the realization hits that there are three Oscar-nominated actors on the screen being thrown about the San Francisco nighttime sky. Get that cash, kids.
Venom: Let There Be Crazy, Stupid Love isn’t a great movie, but it doesn’t matter because it’s just big, dumb, romantic fun.