“Vice” stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, and Sam Rockwell. Released on December 25, 2018, the film depicts Dick Cheney and his quest to become the most powerful Vice President in history.
The film is directed by Adam McKay, who also directed films such as “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”, “Step Brothers”, “The Other Guys”, and “The Big Short”. All right, just what we need. Another film that deals with politics. Three years ago, Adam McKay shifted away from directing straight-up comedies to direct a biographical drama that chronicles the financial crisis of 2007-2008 known as “The Big Short”. As a result, he earned himself and his co-writer Charles Randolph an Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay, along with a few award nominations including Best Director and Best Picture. This year, McKay is attempting to put himself on the Oscars list again with a film that showcases Dick Cheney’s political career. A little bit of history never hurt anybody, especially during awards season. So far, it’s been receiving some mixed reviews from critics, but it also earned itself some award nominations, including six Golden Globe nominations. This is probably the last film I’ll see before the 76th Golden Globe Awards airs next weekend, so let’s see if it really deserved those nominations.
Narrated by a fictitious character named Kurt (played by Jesse Plemons), the film chronicles the events that involve Dick Cheney (Bale) and his journey towards Vice Presidency. Adam McKay has a way of making his biographical vision somewhat unique in terms of its visual sources and gags. However, he never lost sight at showcasing the dramatic side of the concept, which is how one man’s decisions as Vice President affected America. While its structure had a couple of misfires, such as the running time, the film was able to provide a smartly investing political depiction of the man who changed history. Christian Bale delivered a magnetic and award-worthy performance as Cheney and Amy Adams was once again riveting and insightful in her role as Cheney’s wife. This is the third film that stared these two actors, following “The Fighter” and “American Hustle”, which would explain why their chemistry between one another was simply irresistible. Steve Carell continues to shine in his dramatic roles as he portrays Donald Rumsfeld, a White House Chief of Staff who assists Cheney. Again, I’m used to seeing Carell in comedies, but his performance in “Vice” made me appreciate his effort in working outside of his comfort zone even more. Sam Rockwell also turned in a suitable performance as George W. Bush. Adam McKay’s screenplay is an intriguing blend of realism and satire that’s not afraid to showcase the pros and cons of someone’s role in politics. It didn’t quite reach its emotional standards, but it did well enough to satisfy those who are into politics. Another aspect that I enjoyed was the filmmakers’ effort in transforming the actors into their respective characters via make-up and hair design. Much like Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour”, Christian Bale is hardly recognizable in his role as Dick Cheney because you don’t see Bale portraying Cheney, you only see Cheney himself as if he was standing right in front of you. The same can be said for the rest of the actors. It’s like looking back at history and see real-life people making real-life decisions. That’s how I know that the filmmakers have a suitable way to make history come alive onscreen.
Overall, with its talented cast, an effective screenplay, and its impressive use of make-up and hair design, “Vice” marks another win for writer/director Adam McKay. It’s not a perfect representation of Dick Cheney, but it shows that McKay is confident in handling his dramatic side without losing sight of his humorous side in the process. If you like McKay’s other works, such as “The Big Short”, you might like this one as well.