Despite playing host to an alien symbiote, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is doing surprisingly well. He and Venom are getting along famously, exchanging zingers, bonding over their shared love of crimefighting, and just generally becoming best friends. Eddie then stumbles onto an opportunity to revive his stalled career as a journalist after serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) asks for Eddie to interview him before he is executed for his crimes. And that’s where Eddie’s day goes from “good” to “worst ever”.
Cletus, you see, is destined to become Carnage, who in the comics may be even more of an enemy to Venom than Venom’s first nemesis Spider-Man. Spider-Man is nowhere to be found in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe despite Tom Holland being credited on this film (don’t get your hopes up on that point, by the way), so it’s up to Carnage to be the prime antagonist for Venom in this film. Cletus quickly bonds with a piece of the Venom symbiote after Eddie interviews him, and together he and Carnage escape from death row without any trouble. It’s then up to Eddie and Venom together, a.k.a. the Lethal Protector, to stop Carnage before he and his true love Shriek (Naomie Harris) kill Eddie’s ex-girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams) and her new fiancé Dan (Reid Scott).
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a prime example of how hard it is for Hollywood to make a good sequel. The first Venom was surprisingly fun thanks entirely to Tom Hardy. Hardy fully embraced his symbiote pal and their banter was wonderful. All they had to do here was let Hardy repeat his performance from last time, which would have been great. In Let There Be Carnage, when Venom and Eddie are alone (together), the magic is still there. They are a joy to watch. Unfortunately, since this is a sequel, Sony crammed a whole bunch of new stuff into this film, like Cletus’ and Shriek’s back story, and none of it measures up to the scenes featuring Eddie and Venom. The worst thing is, since this movie did so well at the box office, the inevitable sequel will surely follow the same pattern as this one, adding even more villains and an even more convoluted plot, and no lessons will ever be learned.
Even though Eddie and Venom lose so much screen time to inferior material, there are still enough good scenes between them to make this a worthwhile watch for fans of the first film. However, this film should be a hard pass for anyone who disliked the first, and I’m sure everyone in this category knew that before reading this review. And if you haven’t seen either Venom film, watch the first and then wait to see if the third film ends up being better than the second.