Film Review: Vice

Writer-director Adam McKay’s mission is clear with Vice. The film works for the most part, thanks in large part to its cast and the filmmaker’s palpable conviction.

Spurred on by his wife Lynne, Dick Cheney rises through the ranks in Washington. From assistant in the Nixon administration to Vice-President under George W. Bush, Cheney changes the US and the world…

Following 2015’s The Big Short, writer and director Adam McKay returns with another target in his sights. Vice is a biopic, but one with a heavy slant. McKay’s message is clear; he is going to lay out exactly why Dick Cheney is responsible for so many of the terrible things in recent US politics. Nevertheless, the film is more nuanced than a hit piece. 

From early on in proceedings, Cheney is depicted as a villain. In some ways, Vice could be seen as a super-villian origins story; the film does show the rise of character who goes on to do substantial damage. Yet the portrayal is more nuanced than this, depicting a family man as well as a political player.

Vice flits between comedy and drama for a good portion of the run time. The tone is sometimes uneven; the abruptness of which the film jumps from the humorous to the deadly serious is striking. However this seems to be McKay’s point, indicating the farcical nature of the various administrations, and the very serious consequences. Pacing in the film can seem languid at times.

Christian Bale delivers a most excellent performance as Cheney, proving once again that he is one of the very best actors in Hollywood today. Amy Adams delivers fantastic support as Lynne, and Sam Rockwell is wonderful as George W. Bush.

Vice is an imperfect picture. Nevertheless, Adam McKay wins viewers over with his clear passion and the great performances from his cast.

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