Adam McKay directs Vice, a biopic on former Vice President to George W Bush, Dick Cheney and his secretly important role in helping to run his administration as well as how he became a key figure in American politics at the highest level in his career. The film stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Alison Pill and Jesse Plemons.
Biopics can be a tough nut to crack, if done well and about an iconic enough individual, they’re easy awards fodder and will probably get lapped up, though most people will tell you differently about Bohemian Rhapsody. That being said, making biopics about controversial, even disliked individuals is always a bit rough and making the re-telling of the persons life to seem a bit more amicable or interesting without embellishing the truth may be borderline impossible. Make no mistake, McKay doesn’t try to portray Cheney in a rosey image but we do get to see that the man did have a softer side to him, being a family man after all.
Overall the results are a mixed bag, the casting is great to start off with, Christian Bale does his thing and is method as you like, putting on weight and wearing a lot of make up to re-create Cheneys’ appearance, he along with Sam Rockwell as George W Bush are the highlights of the film for sure. Though Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney is also great, as is Steve Carell as the rather dubious Donald Rumsfeld, it’s interesting to see Cheneys’ earlier years in politics, meeting Donald Rumsfeld and getting the lay of the land as a bright eyed and naive politician hoping to make it big time.
We follow his political career as he matures and becomes more jaded with politics, aiming to seize power and be in the decision room – making the decisions, not simply advising on them, as he apparently did during George Ws’ administration and we all know how terribly that went for Iraq and Afghanistan in the middle east. My main issue with Vice as a biopic is that despite how quippy and funny it is in certain points, it doesn’t really shed any insight on the man himself, we get no real delving into his views on the Iraq war, or on Bush which is a bit of a shame. The story glosses over the reactions to the 9/11 attacks and ignoring Bushes’ role in it completely was a big mistake as well in my opinion as we only get a few minutes dedicated to it.
Though to be fair to McKay, maybe the film was doing Cheney justice as there wasn’t really much else to tell about a rather shallow, supposedly power hungry individual without using creative licence but I did leave the film feeling like it did miss a trick. Though we do see Cheneys’ plain desire to satisfy big oil companies and willingness to lie to congress about WMDs’ in Iraq, helping to spark the Iraq war. Cheney was supposedly in bed with big corporations and helped to create the political climate existing today in the US, sparking a revival and rise of conservatism as we know it in some ways.
Unfotunately Vice also just isn’t that funny either, far from the hilarious romp that its marketing will try to make you think it is, which is surprising for McKay and his snappy, quippy film style, maybe because of the serious subject material and controversy of his work with Bush and the damage it caused in the Middle East. Though I will give credit to Sam Rockwell who is just a bundle of energy and just seeing him as George W Bush before he even did anything had me chuckling to myself.
That being said, the film is a somewhat interesting look at a rather uninteresting and uninspiring individual – I think I’m being nice here as I’m sure other people would describe him as worse. Though despite the real life stories and effects that came from his time in politics, the cast does a good job to try to portray him and his events in life as best they can and they’re to be commended for the effort, especially Christian Bale, who surely had no easy time getting into the mindset or shape for the role.
. No real insight into Dick Cheney
. Glosses over some more important moments in Cheneys career
. Has some well written dialogue