HOLLYWOOD—I’ve seen a lot of films in 2018, some great, some not so great, but wow, that’s the best way I can describe the satirical dramedy “Vice.” I don’t want to fully call it a comedy (which at times it feels more like that), but the movie does a sensational job of teetering the lines of having these fun bursts of drama that make it captivating to watch.
The movie has an all-star cast that consists of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell and Steve Carell to name a few. It doesn’t hurt to have Adam McKay, who helmed Best Picture nominee “The Big Short” in the driver seat. I didn’t love “The Big Short” cause it took more than one watch to fully understand what was being presented to me., but that is a discussion we can have at a later date.
So the question that I continue to hear is rather “Vice” is a political film. The answer is YES, and it’s better that you know that now before entering the theater and getting something that you didn’t expect. Politics will be discussed and in a major way. The narrative follows the rise of Vice President Dick Cheney, a man who is so captivating that even if you hadn’t seen the movie “Vice” you’ve heard about Cheney and his ‘moves’ behind the scenes. This movie works on so many levels because of the performance by its leading man Christian Bale who takes on the role.
Bale has been known to go to extreme lengths to get himself into character for various film roles. Rather its losing massive weight to portray a character in “The Machinst” and “The Fighter” or him putting on weight to portray a hustler in “American Hustle,” Bale is a committed actor. He gained over 40 pounds to portray Cheney, bleached his eye brows and is a scary as hell shoo-in for Cheney. If you didn’t know who the real Dick Cheney was, if you saw Bale you would have thought you were speaking with the real former Vice President.
The mannerisms, the cadence, the movements it’s a performance so captivating and well-acted, I would be floored and I mean that in the worst possible way if Bale does not nab his second Best Actor Oscar nomination for his work in the movie. The same sentiment applies for his co-star Amy Adams (who has been robbed more times than I can count by the Academy), as his faithful wife, Lynne Cheney. The movie presents the notion that Lynne was more aware of what was taking place behind the scenes than what we’d like to believe. Adams and Bale just have great synergy and chemistry with each other; and working together more than once on the big screen might be one of those reasons.
I also have to toot my horn to Sam Rockwell, who is perfection and I mean perfection in his portrayal as Former President George W. Bush. It’s not just the voice that Rockwell nails, it’s his mannerisms and ability to fully immerse himself as ‘W,’ as so many coin him. I’ve seen many impersonations of Bush, and this one wins hands down.
So you might be asking why “Vice” is so entertaining. Well it tells the audience something many of us already perceived: that Cheney was the puppet master and Bush was his puppet. Now look, if you’re a hardcore conservative “Vice” might anger you and not be your cup of tea. For liberals, you might be doing cartwheels down the aisle. This is not saying you have to be politically involved to enjoy this movie because while it does seem to shove things down your throat, it does so with comedy so it’s not the same as if I was watching a drama or a biopic on Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and his cabinet during the time that the two were in control of The White House.
The movie is narrated by Kurt (voice of Jesse Plemons), who’s true identity might leave many wanting to speculate the actual face attached to the name. The narration works to a degree, and at times I did find the narration to slow down the overall impact of the movie and its delivery. McKay does make the mistake of slightly pushing some of the material down the spectator’s throats, when it’s not actually needed. The movie was already strong in its right without those few fleeting scenes that don’t add much, but simply annoy some who might be offended with what is being depicted on the screen.
“Vice” shows the American public that Dick Cheney had his hands in many pots, some which we knew very well about. The way the movie delivers that information makes a few lightbulbs go off in the brain; some of interest, some of surprise and some that might simply appall you. It’s a very smart movie, and ranks as one of my top five of 2018 not just because of its subject matter, but the acting that is top-notch by this cast.