WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
The epic story of how a bureaucratic Washington insider quietly became the most powerful man in the world—as Vice President to George W. Bush—reshaping the U.S. and the globe in ways that are still felt today.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
As American politics gets wilder by the day and the threat of terrorism is constantly on the Western World’s minds, one often wonders how the US got to where it is today. While there are many factors that led to it, Vice tells you a story that you may not know as well as that of presidents like Bush and Obama – it tells the story of a man that was so bland and secretive, he managed to evade the spotlight for many years and orchestrate world-changing decisions that not only had an affect on America, but the whole world.
But what makes this film about Dick Cheney so interesting is that it acknowledges what it doesn’t know through creative storytelling – a Shakespearean speech about Dick deciding to run for president, the bleeping out of names of energy CEOs and the use of a narrator that interjects with his family life in-between scenes. Through this surprising honesty, it makes the more plausible facts even more believable.
The story follows the rise of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) alongside his wife Lynne (Amy Adams), from law school dropout to working as a White House aide to becoming Chief of Staff until he reached the height of Vice President. From here, he weaves a web of power that changed the course of history.
It’s hard to believe that the director and writer from Anchorman and Step Brothers could tackle such a sensitive political topic, but Adam McKay luckily had already proved his mettle with his critically acclaimed The Big Short. However, he took ‘objectivity’ and threw it out the window followed by a slew of swear words, and worked rough with the sensitivities to mold this almost monster-like caricature of a political stalwart – and you end up buying all of it.
This was obviously also made possible by the indelible persona of Bale, who again morphed his body into that of Cheney. His study of the man he so lovingly called ‘Satan’ while accepting his Golden Globe award shows the prowess that Bale has for characterisation, and the support from Adams as his wife should also not be overlooked for her brilliant portrayal. In terms of family life there’s not much you can fault Cheney in, and its quite an unnerving contrast to his brutality in the political world.
Also Sam Rockwell’s portrayal of George W Bush as an empty-headed party boy deserves an Oscar in its own right.
Even if you feel bored with the circus that is real life American politics, Vice is worth a watch not just because of its take on an important part of modern history, but also a great narrative study on how facts are portrayed in biopics and will appeal to those in the film industry. Sometimes audiences forget that movies will always be filtered representations of reality, and Vice breaks that wall enough times to make sure its audience questions everything it’s showing them.