Director: Adam McKay
Writers: Adam McKay
Stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carrell, Tyler Perry, Sam Rockwell
Vice is Adam McKay’s vicious take-down of the man who single handedly forced America into a never ending war with the middle east and pushed those of us who aren’t billionaires into financial ruin. Or is it simply about Dick Cheney, the dirtbag (as the opening voice over calls him) turned loving husband and father who always puts his family first no matter what? I suppose it depends on how you look at it.
McKay who came from directing comedies like Anchorman and then turned his career around with The Big Short, another movie like Vice that looked into what went wrong with 21st century America, certainly has a style that is unmistakably his. A pseudo-documentary with elements of serious drama and comedy, his recent films are maddening in their portrayal of why the world seems to be going to shit. But they sure are interesting to watch.
The most interesting part of Vice of course, is its star Christian Bale, who once again takes body modification to an insane extreme. We’ve seen him go from deathly skinny to being a muscular Batman in the Dark Knight trilogy. Then to chubby, back to in regular shape, and now, completely disappearing into a fat, balding old Dick Cheney. It would be distracting to see Bale go from young man to old fat man in the span of two hours if he wasn’t so damn good.
But a performance doesn’t make a whole movie, and while Vice isn’t bad, it’s hard to say what it all means. Without getting too political, it’s fair to say that people on all sides recognize just what a dark force in American politics Dick Cheney is. To put it bluntly, as the film does, the man is a monster. But then the film seems to want to have its cake and eat it too (or in Cheney’s case, pastries), by also depicting him as a driven family man who turned his life around after getting an ultimatum from his wife Lynne (Amy Adams). He may not care about YOU, but he draws the line at supporting Republicans’ non-support of Gay marriage because of his daughter… Well, until he doesn’t. I suppose that means he’s a complicated character, but what exactly is the movie trying to tell us? It’s hard to tell.
Still, it’s an enjoyable film that blurs the line between documentary and dramedy. Great performances all around including Sam Rockwell as a scene stealing George W. and Steve Carrell as a gleeful Donald Rumsfeld. There’s plenty to like. Just plan on leaving the theater pissed off one way or another.
Note: While this has nothing to do with the movie’s merits, I wanted to mention that this was the 106th and final movie I saw in the theater in 2016. After constantly hearing about how the theatrical experience is marred by people talking and using their phones in the theater, this is literally the FIRST TIME I’ve ever had to deal with people talking in the theater! I don’t know if it’s the Century South Point theater (my first time there all year), or this particular movie, or the fact that it was New Years weekend and maybe people were drunk… But I found it interesting that I finally had to deal with people talking the whole time.