I’m going to get this out of the way. I am an unapologetic liberal. But, I do not like biases that lean to either side of the spectrum, even if it’s beneficial to my beliefs. I am aware that this film could easily be viewed as liberal-leaning propaganda, twisting facts and trying to convince people to agree with the film’s agenda. I acknowledge that this film was made by people who do not admire or respect the people that they’re depicting, therefore creating biases, but I am reviewing this film strictly as a film, not through some political filter. I am reviewing it as if it weren’t based on true events. Actually as if it were not based anything at all.
Before watching this film, my only knowledge of Dick Cheney was that he was: A) George W. Bush’s vice president, and B) the subject of the Gabriel Gundacker Vine, in which the viner claims that, “Dick Cheney made money off the Iraq War.”
Vice is the newest film from comedic director, Adam McKay. With this film, and The Big Short, it seems like we’re in a new era of films from McKay. He started out with Will Ferrell comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers, but now he’s making smart, modern, comedic biographies about the 2000s political climate, and that’s not a bad thing. Here, McKay establishes his style, and affirms that he’s a directing force to reckon with.
This film is oozing with style and substance, unlike most films I saw from 2018. McKay takes visionary control over this story, which he makes his own. From the very start, the film claims that it’s “sort of” based on a true story, meaning that it’s telling the most cohesive story with the material they could find, making this film feel much more unique than any other film based on true events. By establishing that this film isn’t completely true, it allows itself to take more creative liberties and have a story that feels like a movie. Other films, like Bohemian Rhapsody and The Theory of Everything, feel like a collection of vignettes on a person’s life, and not an overarching story like this film.
An aspect that I admired is that the film wants to tell the story of how Dick Cheney gained all of the power that he had from 2001-2009. It starts off with him being a down-on-his-luck alcoholic who’s in search of a career, and his transition into the world of politics, where he gained a want for control and power. This want becomes an obsession, with him doing anything to be able to obtain control. Cheney has been called the political “Darth Vader”, meaning that he’s the right hand man to power, but actually is the most powerful. As the audience, you become frightened by the amount of control that Cheney was gain through manipulation and loopholes, making him an unlikable protagonist, which is something that isn’t often seen.
The cast of this film is remarkable. The underrated Amy Adams continues to prove why she is one of the best actors living today, and should have an Oscar (which she lacks after being nominated 5 times, #NewLeo). Steve Carell and Tyler Perry, while given not much to do, bring a lot to their limited screen time. The standouts, undeniably, are Christian Bale and Sam Rockwell as Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. Rockwell, with this and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is easily becoming one of my favorite actors, bring so much comedic charm and deep layers to his performances. His impression and encapsulation of Bush makes him blend in with the real life figure. But, of course, Christian Bale knocks it out of the park as the titular character. Ever since American Psycho, audiences knew that Bale could encapsulate a character and give an unforgettable acting performance, but ever since his dramatic weight loss of 62 pounds for The Machinist, Bale established that he could physically embody his character as well too. After watching this movie, I proceeded by watching YouTube videos of Cheney himself, and I believe that Bale is more Cheney than Cheney is Cheney. Bale was able to find every single physical and vocal quirk that his subject has, take it on, and make it seem very natural. He is able to convey Cheney’s smooth, powerful side, but also the side of him that has anxiety about public speaking. These juxtaposing ideas make his character much more round than caricature-like.
With an intricate, charming, and funny script, brilliant performances, amazing editing, and distinct vision, Vice becomes one of the most entertaining and interesting film about politics I’ve ever seen. Although this isn’t a crowd-pleasing film that everyone will enjoy, like a lot of McKay’s previous works, this film is perfect for those who have any fascination into the current political landscape. It’s very fitting for those who know a lot about politics, and those who don’t know that much at all. If you’re looking to be somewhat educated on this topic while not being talked-down-to, then this is a film that I would recommend checking out.