- 3.5 out of 5
Vice - probably the best horror movie you will see this year.
Directed and written by Adam McKay (who brought us The Big Short and Ant-Man) now brings us an interesting biopic of Dick Cheney. As VICE starts we meet a young Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) who is a hard drinker and a bar brawler; he gets thrown out of Yale and winds up in jail for drunk driving. His girlfriend, Lynne (Amy Adams), gives him an ultimatum, and Cheney agrees to straighten out. He becomes a congressional intern, starts working with Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), and holds several positions in the White House, eventually losing his job when Jimmy Carter is elected president. Years later, Cheney is approached by George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) to be Bush's running mate. Cheney reluctantly agrees, but only after he convinces Bush to let him take on some of the larger, "duller" responsibilities of the office of the president. When the 9/11 attacks occur, Cheney senses an opportunity to turn his position into one of enormous power.
If you saw The Big Short, you will recall that McKay used celebrities to explain the finer points and technicalities. Here he uses a number of devices; a surprising narrator choice and offbeat little inserts and alternate realities (the film has a funny false ending halfway through). The opening text claims that the film is a true story, then says that since Cheney was so secretive, they just did the best they could. The narrator is played by Jesse Plemons who breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience. It's an interesting exposition methodology which works well for the audience but does not end well for the on-screen narrator. McKay even has the Cheneys recite Shakespearean soliloquys at one point which just adds to the slightly comic/irreverent tone of the film. It's a film that has as many laughs as it does moments of bitter truth, many of them bleeding into each other.
Again putting his body through a drastic change for a role, Christian Bale is absolutely incredible as Dick Cheney with his mannerism & glare down perfectly. I'm just as impressed with Amy Adams, Steve Carell, & Sam Rockwell. Great performances all - even if they strayed towards caricature.
Amy Adams does a wonderful job as Lynne. She's a veteran and she is owed just as much credit as her male co-stars for taking what could be a forgettable part and doing a lot with it. I thought Sam Rockwell did a more understated job as George W. Bush than I expected. He plays up Bush's confusion and ignorance, but his portrayal isn't as malicious, and I think he was great. Steve Carell has turned into an elite dramatic actor, he gets the job done here, I think he has the least amount to work with but he's solid. There were lots of recognizable faces in cameos and brief supporting parts; Alfred Molina, Tyler Perry, Alison Pill, Naomi Watts and Don McManus.