A few years after his look at the financial crisis of 07/08 and its causes in The Big Short Adam McKay is back with a similar style of film, Vice. Covering the life of former US Vice President Dick Cheney, his rise to prominence in the US government, and the incredible amount of power he was able to wield in the role, Vice has very much divided people, which is something that has to be expected in such a political film.
It’s fair to say that McKay doesn’t shy away from showing his political leanings in the film, as Vice very much portrays Cheney as a manipulative, cruel, and ruthless man who was responsible for starting the war in Iraq, the creation of ISIS, and the all the deaths that occurred as a result.
It tells this story very much in the same style as The Big Short, with humorous cut always in order to explain and simplify more complex terms or ideas, or to fill in blanks that we wouldn’t be able to know about otherwise. It’s a slightly strange style of filmmaking, and if you weren’t a fan of it in The Big Short, you’ll still struggle with Vice.
What Vice unquestionably has going for it is a stellar cast. Christian Bale as Cheney is unsurprisingly incredible. Cheney is a quiet and fairly emotionless man, but Bale manages to make the role more than that. You can always see the gears turning with Bale, managing to make it more than just a great impression.
Alongside him is Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld, and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush. All are great, with Rockwell’s Bush being a hilarious portrayal of the former President. But the real stand out is Carell. His turn as Rumsfeld is the aspect of the film that just isn’t getting the praise it should, and should probably have more buzz around it than Rockwell, who’s performance is fun, but doesn’t really have much depth to it.
Honestly Vice is a film with a lot to admire. But it doesn’t quite mesh, particularly the humour. McKay is obviously known for comedy background, and there are a lot of moments in Vice that are hilarious, but it feels at odds with some of the truly horrific things that we see happening at the hands of Cheney, or as a result of his actions. It doesn’t ruin the film by any means, but it does feel jarring.
Vice is certainly a film that you should see, particularly if you’re not familiar with Dick Cheney, and the performances are more than worth your time, and when the film hits its mark it really works, but if you struggled with the style of The Big Short you may also struggle with Vice.