“VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE”
Rated PG-13. At AMC Boston Common and South Bay, Landmark Kendall Square, Regal Fenway and suburban theaters.
Like its predecessor, the “Venom” sequel “Let There Be Carnage” is virtually a smug non-stop cavalcade of violence. With a PG-13 rating.
Don’t worry — there’s no blood from the mass mortality. No sex either, just a schoolboy-style crush on a pretty woman. The film’s target teen audience never has to worry about being embarrassed by the mushy stuff.
Once again, the comedy of having an alien symbiote living in your body and dictating what you do is the focus.
Tom Hardy’s determined reporter Eddie Brock gets an insider’s story by helping condemned murderer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson). This enrages Stephen Graham’s Detective Mulligan.
Brock has what might have been called a monkey on his back with Venom, the alien symbote, constantly popping up, having violent fits (“Don’t throw my $2,000 TV out the window!” Brock pleads.) and continually dictating what Brock should be doing.
This relationship between two misfits constitutes the series’ running gag.
Cletus is in love with the imprisoned Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris, a long, long way from her job with MI6 as Ms. Moneypenny in the Bond series). She’s got an awfully loud scream that would do Edvard Munch proud and needs to be kept in a soundproof Plexiglas box. I believe her nickname is Shriek, which she does a lot.
The state has revived the death penalty just to be able to kill Cletus but through some twisty plotting, Cletus now has an alien symbiote occupying his body that is conveniently and accurately named Carnage.
That means many, many die as Cletus skips out of prison to reunite with Shriek, and Carnage and Venom have a battle that rivals the tediousness of Batman versus Superman years ago.
It all ends up in a church, the better to have clanging church bells — a nod to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” perhaps?
Hardy, one of our best actors, gives Brock a dim sweetness that makes co-starring with a special effect work well.
Harrelson at 60 is made up to resemble a a 60-year-old who resembles a scary-looking 6-year-old. It’s the funniest aspect of his performance.
Michelle Williams, here with a doctor boyfriend (Reid Scott), has virtually nothing to do except let us know she has Brock’s — and Venom’s — number.
Andy Serkis, so splendid as a motion capture star, directed. The story is credited to Hardy.