December 20, 2018

Vice is in select theaters on December 25th, 2018.

'Vice’ is a remarkably scathing satire, leaving almost no one in Cheney’s circle coming across looking “good.” This pseudo biopic showcases the actions taken by the administrations Cheney serves are all depicted in a very wag-the-dog style approach, with media spin and public perception being a large deciding factor on any piece of legislation or declaration of war. Ethics are checked at the table, and the movie highlights things Cheney is responsible for while also admitting to the fact that Cheney was able to accomplish all of this due to a savvy political mind and a thirst for power.

Christian Bale, known for his dramatic shifts in body weight when accepting new roles, packs on quite a few pounds to play Dick Cheney in one of the most surprising performances of the year. Bale loses himself in playing the former Vice President and the weight gain, the extensive makeup, and the mannerisms he adopts helps him to transform into a near replica of Cheney. Bale will be the frontrunner in several awards discussions because of his strong performance. The strength of Bale’s performance truly lies in his ability to understand what makes Cheney tick, and to carry that sense of quiet ruthlessness to every scene, every interaction.

There are other notable actors in heavy makeup/prosthetics as the cast age through the decades. Sam Rockwell is a convincing George W. Bush and Amy Adams in her typical tour-de-force form also deserves praise for disappearing into the role of Lynne Cheney. Also the pacing and Jesse Plemons’ narration throughout the movie keep this infinitely watchable. Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld feels like he is playing himself while the rest of the cast disappears into their roles. But, really, this is the Christian Bale show, and his portrayal provides enough suspension of disbelief that even the less convincing supporting performances are elevated as a result.

Director Adam McKay has a similar style for ‘Vice’ as with his previous movie, the critically-successful ‘The Big Short.’ ‘Vice’ tackles a complex arrangement of political machinations and theories and presents them as easily digestible, comedic breaks from the movie’s narrative. For example, when the movie speculates on how a particular conversation between Dick and Lynne might have gone down, it shifts into rich Shakespearean dialogue or breaking the 4th wall with an unreliable narrator. By design, they break the narrative and dramatic flow, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but some of them come across as McKay being a bit too cute with his directorial style. Still, the overall effect is positive, creating a movie that is undeniably McKay in tone and structure.

So, yeah I ended up liking ‘Vice’ quite a bit. It’s probably impossible to ask any viewer to attempt to watch this movie without bringing their own political biases to the table, as this movie isn’t at all concerned with playing things safe. The tone and subject matter will alienate some viewers, but the lead performance by Christian Bale make this an incredibly worthwhile watch.

Rating: 5 out of 5

WillWill (Contributor) has called many places home but now resides in Michigan. An Air Force veteran and avid movie goer who enjoys indie movies just as much as major blockbusters. He is also a technology enthusiast.
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