‘Venom:’ mediocre action and excellent love story

Tom Hardy reprises his role as Eddy Brock in ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage.’ The film offers the humorous insight into Eddy’s relationship with Venom that first endeared audiences in 2018. // Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Our Take: 4/5 Stars

Released on Oct. 1, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” hit theaters with resounding success, grossing nearly $90.1 million in ticket sales, the highest box office opening since the beginning of the pandemic. This sequel to Sony’s 2018 hit “Venom” picked up where the first movie left off with Eddy Brock (Tom Hardy, “Inception”) still infected by a symbiote and the world on the brink of peril at the hands of a serial killer, Cletus Cassidy, played by Woody Harrelson (“Now You See Me”).

As a superhero movie, “Venom” was aggressively mediocre. With odd pacing and anticlimactic fight sequences, the movie felt like it was sidelining its own plot. But oddly enough, the marginalization of the heroics was actually what made “Venom” so good.

“Venom” is by definition a superhero movie, but it should be viewed as something completely different. At its core, “Venom” is a story about love — the excitement of falling into it, the pain of falling out of it and the lengths we are willing to go for it.

Throughout the movie, we follow diametrically different relationships — Cletus and Shriek’s Bonnie and Clyde-esque relationship and Annie and Dan’s recent engagement — but it is Eddy and Venom’s relationship that remains central to it all.

This is no surprise. It was their relationship, with its blatant flaws and humorous banter, that got millions of viewers hooked on the Venom franchise in the first place. Nearly the entire first half of “Venom” focuses on Eddy and Venom trying to figure out how to navigate their relationship; Venom feels like Eddy does not allow him enough liberties and Eddy feels stifled by Venom’s constant presence in every aspect of his life.

However, when the two briefly separate, they almost instantly miss each other. Venom, finally able to live the life he wants, cannot enjoy any of it because he wished Eddy was there to see it and in the absence of Venom, Eddy struggles to remember what his life was like pre-symbiote. When they reunite at the end of the movie in their final battle against Carnage, they are able to come to a compromise. In many ways, their reuniting feels more like a definitive climax than the final battle between Venom and Carnage.

It would be remiss to write a Venom review without acknowledging the controversial end scene that introduced Venom to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel is going to introduce Venom into the MCU through the upcoming Spiderman movie “Long Way Home,” since Venom the character got its start off as an antagonist to Spiderman. However, it is difficult to imagine how Venom’s unique brand of morally grey heroics will meld into Marvel’s world of black and white, but regardless, it will definitely be interesting to see.

“Venom” was a reminder of why the first movie was so lovable. Sony is not trying to be something that it is not and instead focuses on what has always made Venom so good: the story of two incredibly flawed people continuing to choose to be there for each other, even if they have to make sacrifices. And at the end of the day, is that not what love is?