Movie Review: Vice

I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen as I watched Christian Bale deliver a stellar performance as Dick Cheney. The transformation is a remarkable one: Bale gained forty pounds and adopted the mannerisms, subdued voice, and lumbering gait of the former vice president.

It is not surprising that Bale has been nominated for a Golden Globe. In fact, Vice has six Golden Globe nominations—Best Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Screenplay, Motion Picture— and is poised to dominate the upcoming award season.

Amy Adams boldly portrays Lynne Cheney, effectively capturing the former Second Lady’s superior intellect and ambition. Without her not-so-gentle prodding, Dick Cheney would not have evolved beyond his two DUIs and limited prospects in Wyoming.

Determined to keep Lynne in his life, Cheney agrees to straighten out. At first, quiet and unassuming, he gradually develops a taste for power and an ability to read people.

I was both fascinated—and repelled—by the manipulative skills that enabled Cheney to rise from congressional intern to White House Chief of Staff to CEO of an oil-field services company to vice-president. Persuading a presidential candidate to abdicate major responsibilities is a testament to his well-honed skills.

While supporting actors Steve Carrell and Sam Rockwell deliver excellent performances as Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush, their roles are not as fleshed out as Bale’s.

Writer-director Adam McKay weaves in humor and irreverence with flashbacks to pivotal events throughout the six-decade span of the film. References to American Idol and Survivor collide with footage of torture and bombings. Spoiler alert: Halfway through the film, McKay teases us with a false ending, one that would have pleased many of us.

A thought-provoking film!


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