Who is Dick Cheney? Well I don't think Vice even knows the answer to that question. When the Academy recently announced this year's nominations it was revealed that Adam McKay's wickedly comedic political biopic scored a head turning eight nominations. Whether Vice is Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Make-Up and Hairstyling or Best Director material is another matter altogether.
In the same zany formula as his last movie The Big Short McKay tells the story of Dick Cheney - a washed up hell raiser freshly booted out of Yale - who subsequently rose through the ranks to become Veep to the 43rd President of the United States, one George W. Bush. Vice spotlights Cheney's behind the scenes influence, quietly building eye popping power, his involvement with the war on terror and consequent invasion of Iraq, and how his legacy has shaped American democracy for years to come.
Vice is fragmented, provocative and worst of all underwhelming. There is a great film underneath this political mess; McKay's eccentric direction remains as niche as always but his latest Oscar orientated endeavour does a poor job of piecing itself together. The film uses freeze frames often for comedic effect but it becomes jarring for the audience when the gag is proceeded by a slice of serious information - and confusing - it's extremely difficult to know when to laugh and exhausting when the narrative spontaneously shifts tone. Frankly, the curious story of Dick Cheney is swallowed up by McKay's chaotic formula.
Christian Bale is the exemplar chameleon actor. Wasting away into the gaunt Trevor Reznik in The Machinist (2004) then beefing up into the Bat of Gotham in The Dark Knight (2008), Bale piles on the pounds as America's former vice president. However I don't think his performance genuinely lives up to the hype - this is by no means a discredit to Bale's capability as a method actor but Vice fails to develop his character beyond that of a reserved career politician. Fundamentally, McKay's batty biopic tells us no more than we already knew about Cheney, there's no deep insight into American politics and nothing proves particularly revealing.
That said All the vice president's men do a better job in the Oval Office. Amy Adams is remarkably strong willed as Lynne Cheney and Steve Carell brings his cheeky but obnoxiousness humour as Donald Rumsfeld - however counter to that, Sam Rockwell is middling in his small role as George W. Bush. Bale - the supposed centre of the story - is quite disappointing. Vice never gets down to the nitty gritty of The Big Short, feeling no more than a scattergun, politically biased story that lacks any real concentration.
Pinch of info
Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.