In many ways, it’s the early scenes in Vice, the movie about former US President – I mean Vice-President – Dick Cheney, that are the most interesting to me. It was how Cheney (played with eerie physical precision by Christian Bale) went from being a Yale dropout to one of the most significant political power players in recent history.
It is the equally brilliant transformation of Amy Adams, a performer who I’ve seen in a number of films, that really wowed me. She disappears into the role of Lynne Cheney, motivating Dick before they got married. Also strong were Steve Carell as Cheney’s early mentor Donald Rumsfeld, and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush, whose own youthful lack of self-control parallels that of Cheney.
One finds out only late in the proceedings why Kurt (Jesse Plemons) is our narrator, and that was a useful device. Even those characters with little to say – LisaGay Hamilton as Condoleezza Rice, e.g. – had the right look.
For me, one of the best laughs came with the fake credits midway through the movie. Oh, if only THAT narrative had actually played out. Since my disdain for Cheney has been quite high for years, not much of the parts after that point were particularly surprising to me. To be honest, I was feeling a bit of confirmation bias. Cleverly, the last scene, which some theatergoers missed because they left too early, addresses that issue.
I enjoyed Adam McKay’s previous movie The Big Short quite a bit more. Maybe it was because I had a lesser understanding of the topic, the market manipulation that helped bring about the Great Recession of 2008. I definitely found the earlier film to be flat out funnier, even as it ticked me off. Dark humor is a tricky thing thing, which is why the critics are so divided over Vice.
Still, despite these qualifiers, I recommend the film for its amazing ability to transform these people, via acting and makeup, into their roles in our recent history which resonate even to this day. For example, just this month, Dick and Lynne’s daughter Liz Cheney rips progressives in preview of House GOP attack plan.
I’m glad my wife and I got to see Vice at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany a couple weeks ago.
Only somewhat off topic: I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America. A glimpse of the suburban grotesque, featuring Russian mobsters, Fox News rage addicts, a caged man in a sex dungeon, and Dick Cheney.