Much like how the quiet man seeks satisfaction from his own perishable fate, Vice gives a temporary sense of thrill about one who committed his entire life to claiming fame. The feature declares in the prologue that those involved did their ‘effing best to stay true to the real story… sure. Research proves otherwise. Look up some articles about the real Dick Cheney in your spare time: a little research should prove those producers wrong.
The director, Adam McKay, returns to the same narrative approach he used in his Academy Award winner three years back, The Big Short, except now, the excessive racket drowns out any point addressed. In fact, any point made seems intentionally blocked so you overlook its lies.
McKay jumps around the timeline randomly, which buffers complex relationships to selfish action movie clichés, but at least Independence Day understood that civilization must stop aliens together, unlike this movie which holds back necessary prominence of communication between countries. The public doesn’t need more movies that throw excessive noise around simultaneously, but a somber tale amongst the shrill media, especially when it’s about powerful men as corrupt as Dick Cheney.
That very man is played by Christian Bale (who just won a Golden Globe for this role) beneath distractingly bad makeup, which doesn’t matter a whole lot as the actor beneath those obvious prosthetics understands the script’s jokily serious satirical style. Bale appropriately looks ready to murder despite working a “nothing” job, his authority screams when he watches a house fly around Lynne Cheney’s rants, then again around Bush. As events creep closer to the end credits, his performance turns more cuckoo than the clock draining out a heartrate beep that signals when it is time for Dick to get a heart implant.
Yet the annoying static of that heart monitor won’t shut up as it tracks how hot your pulse gets watching this. Most fathers of today’s kids will want to throw on earmuffs to stop their blood from boiling, because these fake people use a congressional board game illustration/fascism propaganda to silence democrats. Most mothers will dislike this product because of Amy Adams… just… yikes! Her portrayal of Mrs. Lynne Cheney is way too soft!
In fact, some viewers will feel injustice done for the way they’re depicted on screen. A nauseating camera “crops” the cinematic versions of the Cheney couple put on by Adams and Bale, possibly not to match the mockumentary filmmaking style, but more to block out the bad CGI effects that came from production problems. Thus, you don’t get the maximum impact of this man who changed history without anyone aware of his ghostly existence.
Cheney keeps the same lips of a swine and eyes of a poltergeist—a controlled harsh pig with lipstick immobilizing his speech, a Christmas ham after revenge against the butchers taking credit for the delectable flavor. The problem is that none of that strong addictive bacon flavor is detectable to the taste buds, just the fatty parts left behind. Maybe if Dick talked a little more about his own health over the film’s long timeline, his actual hopes and dreams could give us clear reason to care? Then that way, McKay could’ve focused less on trying to land a gut-punch, and more on ensuring that Mr. and Mrs. Cheney reciting poetry before bed isn’t boring to watch.
Frankly, Adam McKay was the wrong choice to write the screenplay due to his lack of extreme sincerity in grasping human change. He resorts to instead creating a testosterone biopic focused on Cheney’s smoking gun that bloomed up a mushroom cloud seen from Tokyo. Consequently, the women actors’ efforts to stand out look like mice to be trampled upon by the men.
Yet for every mousey performance, it’s all made up for in the way Sam Rockwell breathes a truthful depiction of George W. Bush. Rockwell contrasts the quick beat of an ironic commercial interrupted by 9/11 footage, and does so with a slow, humane face. It almost makes his arguments about climate change reasonable! He mutters words humbly, like the real Bush, making a priestly presence the perfect counterbalance to the way Cheney sees an opportunity amongst everyone’s fear to the 9/11 attacks. Meanwhile, musical composer Nicholas Britell (The Big Short, Moonlight) gives each scene a genre based on the energy present, forcing a more intent listening ear for President Bush’s speech beyond the poltergeist’s interference…
…interference of your capacity to get something useful out of this film, that is. Instead of wanting to be just like Dick Cheney, listen to those higher! Listen to those lesser! Don’t rely on the evil pressed from Vice’s great big lies, a mock-up that only worships itself.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Dwilson, Stephanie Dube. “‘Vice’ Accuracy: How Much of the Dick Cheney Movie Is True?” Heavy. WordPress, 25 Dec 2018. Web. <https://heavy.com/entertainment/2018/12/vice-accuracy-cheney-how-much-true/>.
Mirabella, Lucas. “Movie Review: 'Vice' is a Sharp Satirical Biopic.” Digital image. LATF USA. Disqus, 21 Dec 2018. Web. <http://latfusa.com/article/2018/12/movie-review-vice-is-a-sharp-satirical-biopic/>.
Vice. Powster. Web. <https://www.vice.movie/>.