I’m a big fan of Tom Hardy, but for some reason I just wasn’t interested in seeing Venom back in 2018. Well, Spider-man: No Way Home mid-credit scene featuring Hardy’s character Eddie Brock with his alien parasite in a Mexican bar (where the bartender is Cristo Fernández, aka Ted Lasso‘s Dani Rojas) got me intrigued. Then last week my best friend said she loved both Venom movies and told me to watch them right away.
So my hubby and I decided to watch the first Venom last week and really enjoyed it! I didn’t realize Riz Ahmed and Michelle Williams were in it, these are all Oscar-caliber actors who’ve done a ton of great work. We had such a fun time watching it that we decided to watch the sequel this past Friday.
In the first film, Eddie’s career as a reporter had been pretty much destroyed by Ahmed’s villainous billionaire who ran a genetics corporation and traced the origin story of how the alien symbiotic became a parasitic antihero when it bonded with Eddie. Instead of focusing on Eddie/Venom right away, the sequel opens with a scene from a young man named Cletus Kasady (can’t imagine him being a good guy with a name like THAT) at a former orphanage-turned reform school where he is separated from his girlfriend Frances who’s taken to a maximum security mental asylum. Let’s just say things doesn’t go as planned when Frances uses her sonic-scream ability and the film shifts to the present day.
Eddie has now pretty much adapted to life with the highly-opinionated and demanding Venom living inside him. Hardy clearly relishes on playing this role and the interaction between Eddie + Venom (who’s also voiced by Hardy) is my favorite part of the movie. The breakfast scene where Venom cooks Eddie breakfast is such a brilliant comedic moment I’ve rewatched over and over and it’s always hysterical.
This movie’s directed by Andy Serkis, who’s proven adept both in front and behind the camera. He infuses a sense of fun, chaotic energy into this movie and I really appreciate that he keeps this movie pretty short at only 1 hour 37 minutes. In an age where blockbuster comic-book movies are toping 3-hours, I love movies that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Serkis’ last two films, Breathe and Mowgli, couldn’t be more different from this one, so he’s clearly able to tackle multiple genres. The British multi-hyphenate artist has worked with Woody Harrelson in War for the Planet of the Apes and the Texan-born actor proves to be quite a sinister villain in this one as well. He’s got one of those freaky stares and manic energy, which Serkis exploits to great effect. There’s even touches of Mickey Knox from Natural Born Killers in a few scenes with Naomie Harris’ Frances.
Michelle Williams is back as Eddie’s former girlfriend who’s instrumental in both Eddie’s and Venom’s lives… in fact, she indirectly becomes a heroine for bringing the two back together. Yep, Eddie and Venom have a pretty dramatic break up scene that’s hilariously-bonkers. Who knew an alien symbiote could be so darn sensitive? Peggy Lu and Reid Scott are back as Mrs Chen and Dr. Dan Lewis, respectively, they both also have a bit more to do in this movie in two memorable scenes.
Thanks to his conversation with Cletus, as well as Venom’s surprisingly astute deductive reasoning, Eddie’s able to help authorities uncover all the bodies of the people Cletus has killed. So detective Patrick Mulligan (an intense Stephen Graham), the same detective assigned to transport Frances in her youth, suspects something is afoot that Eddie is the only person Cletus wants to talk to. Eddie visits Cletus on the day he’s to be executed by lethal injection and incident occurs that transforms Cletus to an even scarier monster. Carnage is an a fitting name for it as that’s what it leaves in its wake. He makes Venom looks like a naughty-but-harmless domestic pet.
The scene of Cletus unleashing well, carnage when he escapes prison lives up to its title that pushes its PG-13 rating to its limit. I’m glad it’s not rated R as I’d imagine it could get pretty gory and vicious. Serkis keeps the mood light and even whimsical, never making it more stern or serious than in needs to be. The script is by Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr Banks, Fifty Shades Of Grey) and Hardy also got a story credit. For a movie based on comics, it’s a great idea to incorporate an animated ‘storybook’ illustrations to depict Cletus’ childhood in a flashback scene. Done by VFX company Framestore, it’s a unique and creative way of storytelling that blends nicely with the tone of the movie.
The final battle inside a cathedral is action packed and erratic, but doesn’t feel overblown and peppered with some comedic moments. Overall I had a blast with this one and enjoyed it even more than the first movie. The premise is inherently goofy but the filmmaker and cast embrace its silliness and elevate it into a riotous good time from start to finish. The ending teases a follow-up movie (natch!) and I hope Serkis will helm it as well. The fact that he’s directed Andrew Garfield before in Breathe, it’d be awesome to see his Spider-man play opposite Hardy in one of the planned multi-verse movies.