“Vice” was written and directed by Adam McKay and stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell. The film is about the rise of Dick Cheney, who eventually worked his way up to not only becoming Vice President under George W. Bush, but becoming the most powerful Vice President in the history of the United States.
This was my most anticipated movie of the second half of the year, hands down. McKay blew my socks off with “The Big Short,” and this movie seemed right in his wheelhouse. The trailer absolutely blew me away, and sold me on the ability of Bale, Adams, Rockwell and Carell to kill it in their roles.
As expected, Bale, Adams, Rockwell and Carell kill it in their roles. Bale is Dick Cheney in this movie. He lives and breathes as the VP in every sense, totally transforming not only in the look, but with the mannerisms and the tone of voice. This is one of the best performances of the year, and one of the best of Bale’s career, simply because there was not a moment in the movie where I thought I was watching a portrayal. This just felt like Cheney, and Bale delivers every line of dialogue brilliantly throughout the film.
It’s hard for anybody to stand out whenever Bale is remotely in a scene, but his trio of supporting members somehow managed to do it. Adams is outstanding as Lynne Cheney, perfectly countering Bale’s subdued turn with someone who works more vocally. Carell also does a great job with this as Donald Rumsfeld, doing much of what worked so well for him with McKay in “The Big Short.”
Adams probably had the best supporting performance of the movie, but if I’m picking a favorite, it’s Rockwell, who plays George W. Bush, in many ways, to a tee. It’s fair to say this is not a generous look at the 43rd president, and Rockwell makes that work excellently, perfectly resembling everything that made W. Bush so unique. Again, his dynamic with Bale works wonders, being the exuberant personality in comparison to Cheney, who works mostly behind the scenes.
For better or for worse, McKay absolutely goes for it with “Vice,” holding absolutely nothing back throughout the movie. For how bold and audacious “The Big Short” was, “Vice” is that movie on steroids, bringing loads of energy and a ton of new ideas that I have not really seen in a film like this one. McKay will surely piss off plenty of people with this movie, but for me, i just had to appreciate how little he held back creating this film.
There’s a lot to enjoy about how much heart McKay clearly put into this movie, as it is clear through the unorthodox style and amount of scathing info is put on display. There’s barely a shot here that feels safe, and it makes for a wild thrill ride that never gets close to boring throughout its’ 132-minute runtime.
But because McKay goes so edgy and so out there, some of his ambitious effort feel a little much. There are a handful of these moments, specifically when the film gets meta, that don’t pass with flying colors for me. I do appreciate the effort, and they might not outright fail, but I think many of these go on too long, or feel overly ridiculous in the context of the movie.
When McKay goes so far over the edge, it can feel like I’m watching a Michael Moore documentary, and not one of the good ones. “Vice” has the dedication from its cast to make plenty of McKay’s craziness work, but not all of it, and I wish that he was able to reel it all in a little more than he did here.
“Vice” is an insane watch, a controversial, often funny, always different look at how terrible Dick Cheney was. This is the type of movie that can be seen as a masterpiece or a horrifying piece of garbage depending on where you stand on what the film is trying to say. Either way, the ensemble is one of the best of the year, and I respected a lot of the efforts, causing “Vice” to be a film I won’t soon forget.
Get tickets and showtimes for “Vice” here