While messy and at times choppy with overstuffed stylistic devices that at times will make you cringe while other ones certainly impress, Adam McKay’s “Vice” is a step up from “The Big Short”. It’s a scathing satire that is wholly entertaining and greatly paced. The performance of Christian Bale as former Vice President is breathtakingly real and Bale elevates the performance away from caricature. Sadly many of the other characters are your typical Hollywood’s version of the scary Republican archetype and caricature.
The saga begins with a young Dick Cheney; a alcoholic and a bar brawler who gets kicked out of Yale and winds up in jail for drinking under the influence. His financee Lynne (Amy Adams) gives him an ultimatum, straighten up or she will split up with him.
Cheney ends up becoming an intern in the US House of Representatives, and he works under then Representative Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), where he learns all about the cutthroat ways of Washington that represent special interests and lobbyists over the people. He ends up getting a high position in the White House under Nixon, where eventually he loses his position due to the election of Jimmy Carter becoming President elect.
Years later, he is approached with an offer by George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) who asks him to be his running mate. He reluctantly agrees, but is swayed back when he sees opportunity to gain more power for him and his cronies, especially after the tragedy of 9/11.
While the film is indeed one-sided, it’s a flamethrower with a point of view that is self-aware with its approach. It’s a rather fascinating exploration of power gone awry. Viewers will learn nothing new here unless you’re the type of person that doesn’t follow politics too closely. Amy Adams delivers a nuanced and engaging performance as Lynne Cheney, and Sam Rockwell is a riot as George W. Bush.
Bale in his performance observes and hides; it’s not a particularly personal performance, but it’s very skillful, and overall effectively real. The film’s strongest argument is our constant interventions in the Middle East and the blowback it has entailed by creating more terrorism and war. With our country finally removing troops from Syria while many pundits and politicians in both parties advocating for more war, this film is a much needed shout at our current state of politics and foreign policy.