There is a lot to say about Vice and indeed the Post 911, Bush-era presidency that has been said and yet still to be said. I think this move might not be the complete picture of that story and its impact. The film from the director of The Big Short, The Other Guys, Step Brothers etc is more hit than miss. It is fun, thought-provoking and really took me bad to that time period super well. If the soundtrack had some NOFX or Anti-Flag on it then it would’ve been perfect.
If you enjoyed the way The Big Short is shot and directed or if you remember the era you will find a lot to like in this movie. The casting is spot on; with everyone bringing their A game. I must hand it to Amy Adams, after watching her in the DCEU movies, I forgot she was such a good actress. She steals the show with Christian Bale not being far behind her. Steve Carell is excellent as Donald Rumsfeld to the point that I forget it is not actually “Rummy”. And who doesn’t enjoy Sam Rockwell in general. From top to bottom, the cast is a triumph.
This is aided by excellent hair and makeup effects which ages and de-ages the cast to time jump around the story. It’s truly excellent.
The core story tells the “true story” of Dick Cheney from humble beginnings to the Vice President of the US and maps the power that he wielded under Bush by exploiting the “Unitary executive theory” to expand power, implement the “Patriot Act”, expand the “Deep State” and invade the Middle East.
The story is gripping, scary and eerie but there is also pathos for the man which surprised me. You don’t hate anyone at the end of it. It is a story built on facts and is very family focused on Cheney. Which leaves one at the end of the movie which a sense of sadness more than anything as you’re aware this isn’t a movie this happened, and we are living in its wake.
The biggest issues that are twofold. The first is “lamp shaded” at the end of the movie in a mid-credit skit. It at times falls into the “NPC” hole of “Orange Man bad; Obama good” despite Trump not being anyway near these events and Obama pushing a lot of what this movie cover beyond even Cheney. This is covered in the excellent Snowden for those interested.
The next is pacing. This is related to the above. I feel that Vice, The Big Short and Snowden (or a similar movie holding the Obama era to account) would tell the full narrative. Without the last two bits; it is just a chunk of a massive story and comes off at times like “liberal-baiting” when it’s just facts. Which is very disappointing. This might, again, lose people and we’re seeing this with the mixed reviews.
I would say whatever your pollical stance; go see this movie it is as balanced and fair as it can be. I would again suggest watching Snowden afterward and you’ll walk away with an understanding of the themes touched but not expanded within the runtime. There was only so much that could be done and for what they aimed to do they achieved.
This gets a strong recommendation from me not as good as The Big Short but still a gripping watch with an excellent cast and room for more films like this going forward.
Vice is in Irish cinemas January 25th