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by British Awakening – 14 Feb 2019

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Vice is a biopic that examines how Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) effectively became the President under George W Bush (Sam Rockwell). The story starts with Cheney’s early career in Washington, under the wing of Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell) Cheney learns how to acquire power and use it, gradually climbing the greasy pole of a Washington insider. Because of his affiliation with Rumsfeld, Cheney’s reputation survives the fallout from the Watergate scandal and after a few years is able to not only regain his position but increasingly grow his power base within the Republican party and Washington in general.

First of all, this is a good movie but not a great one, Christian Bale gives a superb performance as Cheney and completely convinces with his study of intellectual menace. Sam Rockwell does what he does best - which is to appear as Sam Rockwell playing someone else, in this case George Dubya Bush and he does succeed in conveying Bush’s vote winning charm which is an often overlooked aspect of his presidency. Steve Carell adds to the devil’s brew with his humorous examination of the cynical worldview of Donald Rumsfeld.

The Director Adam McKay shows great skill in bringing the audience quickly up to speed with Cheney’s life and career. His daughter’s lesbianism is introduced quickly and effectively by a scene with her crying at school having been rejected by her girlfriend, the brief vignette sets the scene for Amy Adams to deliver a solid performance as Cheney’s wife Lynne and helps develop the few more human aspects of Cheney’s character. Cheney, unlike his wife is seen as less judgmental of his daughter making it clear that he loves irrespective of her choices - a love that is severely tested later in the story.

The film uses dark humour to spin its tale but there are no real belly laughs here, none of the characters are likeable enough and topics like 9-11 and the invasion of Iraq cast too much of a shadow across our lives for us to entertain a positive interpretation of events - which fortunately the film avoids trying to do. If you like biopics and are reasonably familiar with the politics of this era then you will probably enjoy this movie, if politics is not your thing I doubt there is enough of a human story here for you to keep you interested for two hours and twelve minutes.


Directed By: Adam McKay

Written By: Adam McKay

Runtime: 132 minutes

Studio: Annapurna Pictures

IMDB page: Vice



The movie has had very mixed reactions as can be seen from these article headlines:

From the Telegraph:

Vice review: a crazily good Christian Bale turns Dick Cheney into every liberal’s worst nightmare

From the Guardian:

Vice review - Christian Bale hilarious as toad-like VP Dick Cheney

From Vox:

Vice doesn’t want to humanize Dick Cheney. So instead, it (maybe) demonizes America.


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