This comedic biopic follows Dick Cheney’s life from college drop-out to vice president of the United States. His transformation of the powers of the executive branch coupled with his ties to Halliburton created waves of destruction that can still be seen today. Adam McKay, of SNL, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and The Big Short, has created a film that simultaneously impresses the magnitude of Cheney’s legacy, while making the devastation palatable through comic relief.
The story telling style of McKay and partner, Will Ferrell, is unique and apparent in Vice. There is a clear and upfront importance and gravity to the subject matter, yet Vice is also teeming with borderline over-the-top comedic sequences. Don’t get me wrong, this aspect is the best part of the film.
It seems unusual and out of place to have such a serious and devastatingly impactful story told through such a silly lens. Although, this might serve two functions. Firstly, the story is easier to digest. The story is slowed down and emphasized like a caricature artist drawing accentuated features.
Secondly, the film is able to reach a wider audience by not being a run-of-the-mill political drama. This allows Vice to reveal the behind the scenes story to a much wider audience that may otherwise not have any exposure to a film focusing in on the inner workings of political strategy.
Another interesting aspect of the story is the way in which Cheney is depicted in a more complex manner. He is not simply portrayed as a heartless monster. The compassionate and softer sides that come out throughout the story make him more than just one sided. The story becomes less black and white and thus more of a thought provoking look at a complex and devious use of political maneuvering.
One aspect that I found distracting was the editing style. There seemed to periodically be sequences that jumped around and followed several threads at once. While it may have been to help reinforce the parallels between different story-lines as well as further accent the themes and emotions of scene in question, it more often than not seemed to be more distracting than impactful. But what do I know…
When Bush and Cheney were in the white house I was a little too young to pay close attention to politics, especially compared to the way I do today. Although, it is pretty hard to avoid the political conversation nowadays. So, I was not focused in that much into Dick Cheney and was not as familiar with his mannerisms. Bush obviously was characterized through every medium possible and soaked up most of the lime light. This makes the elusive nature of Cheney’s influence more interesting, but also makes it hard to tell how close Bale is in his impersonation.
Based on the caliber of actor I am sure the impersonation of Cheney is spot on. It is no surprise that Bale gained the weight in order to portray Cheney, opposed to wearing a fat suit. Bale has notably made changes to his body for roles, like: The Machinist, American Hustle, and American Psycho, to name a few. However, it never ceases to amaze me the kind of control and dedication some people can have over their bodies. Even Amy Adams followed suit and packed on the pounds to transform herself into the character.
Bale and Adams once again do an incredible job embodying their characters and executing McKay’s style masterfully.
Directed by: Adam McKay
Cinematography: Greig Fraser
Edited by: Hank Corwin
Written By: Adam McKay
Music By: Nicholas Britell
Runtime: 2h 12m
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
Distributed by: Annapurna Pictures