Serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) sought out reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) to send a message out to his "fans" in exchange for exclusive rights to his life story. In one encounter, Eddie's symbiote partner Venom provoked Kasady into biting Eddie's hand which caused Kasady to ingest some symbiote substance into his system.
During Kasady's day of lethal execution, a red symbiote calling itself Carnage appeared and helped Kasady escape in the chaos it caused. Carnage proposed to help Kasady locate and free his ex-lover Frances Barrison a.k.a. Shriek (Naomie Harris) from the Ravencrow Institute. In exchange, it expected Kasady to help him get rid of Brock and Venom.
Performance-wise, lead stars Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson both give it their over-the-top all, in darkly comical portrayals of both their human and their symbiote forms. The talkative and cantankerous Venom was, of course, the star of the show, with all his hilarious zingers and insults as he argued endlessly with his hapless host and other people who displeased it. That part when Venom became a sensation at the costume party he crashed was a lot of fun.
Aside from Hardy, some actors came back to reprise their roles from the 2018 film in this sequel. Michelle Williams is back as Brock's ex-fiancee Atty. Anne Weying. Her announcement that she marrying Dr. Dan Lewis (Reid Scott, also introduced in the first film) caused much annoyance for both Eddie and Venom. Sassy convenience store owner Mrs. Chen (Peggy Lu) also made a comeback, even hosting Venom for a while.
Directed by CGI and motion-capture master Andy Serkis, the symbiote visual effects were messy-looking and chaotic as expected, faithful to the comics illustrations. Naomie Harris' portrayal of Frances was intense, with her supersonic scream a most formidable weapon.
There is a hint of a symbiote future for Detective Patrick Mulligan (Stephen Graham), likely as Toxin. A funny mid-credit scene brings Venom right into the MCU timeline.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, “Fred Said.”