Vice Review: McKay delivers a look at a dark political figure, but stumbles in showing it sometimes.
While it expertly tells the monstrous story of former Vice-President Dick Cheney and how he was able to make big changes in the White House that basically changed the world forever, however, it stumbles with some awkward and unnecessary moments as well as a lack of energy.
Christian Bale plays Dick Cheney flawlessly throughout the film as it tells his story from Cheney’s young beginnings in Wyoming to the end of his vice-president run. Obviously, makeup and Bale’s transformative acting method help him basically become Cheney on-screen, but he takes it a step further by capturing his more monotone voice and mannerisms to make it feel like you are literally watching Cheney on-screen.
The film even feels like this with Sam Rockwell’s George W. Bush and Steve Carell’s Donald Rumsfeld as they as look and feel mostly uncanny compared to the real-life political figures. The most impactful, though, was Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney as her story and impact on Cheney was actually kind of eye-opening to see and it was interesting to see her actually being the one campaigning for his local level congressman campaign.
As a whole, the story of Cheney is incredibly interesting and disturbing to watch all at the same time. There were moments where I kind of thought of Cheney as less of monster, especially when talks about his family and medical issues. However, those feelings quickly went away once the film went into how he basically pulled the rug out from Bush and used his position to start wars and do whatever he wanted in the White House. The film paints him as a heartless monster, rightfully so, and it’s somehow still so incredibly fascinating to watch. It’s like seeing a villain’s plan unfold in a comic-book movie, in some ways seeing it unfold almost tells you more about them.
Where the film, unfortunately, falls short is from McKay’s weird and crazy editing and story-telling style. Often times, McKay throws in something random, like cuts of different shows and news reels from that time that almost feel like scrolling through TV channels, that feel awkwardly placed and unfitting for certain moments. Vice’s story also drags at parts and if McKay didn’t have random explosions going off throughout the film I might have completely dozed off at some points.
McKay does bring some solid story moments, though, that not only made me laugh, but also made me come away with some new thoughts on Cheney’s story. It’s honestly crazy to me how Cheney redirected everything under Bush’s nose and that he even held focus groups for people to give him ways to express messages of fear throughout the U.S. McKay also adds in some solid story moments that work well with his use of dark humor. It won’t work for everyone, but him rolling credits early and have Cheney and his wife talk in Shakespearean verses made me unable to stop laughing. Not to mention, he adds in a late plot twist with the film’s narrator that I felt was incredibly creative.
So, while Vice tells an impactful story and has performances and moments that make it a solid watch, I still came off a little disappointed. McKay just tried to put in too much randomness that just takes away from the fascinating story he already had. That’s not to say that Vice isn’t a solid watch or isn’t somewhat award-worthy, but it just could’ve been so much better.