In this divisive age of American politics, the Christmas Day-released comedy-drama Vice gives people something else to argue about. Equal parts thought-provoking and outrageous, the Adam McKay film follows Dick Cheney’s journey to the becoming Vice President under President George W. Bush. Christian Bale, in an Oscar-worthy performance, plays Cheney. The Annapurna Pictures film had a strong opening day of $4.8 million, placing No. 7 at the box office and ahead of projections. Vice has received six Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Surely, more are in the offing.
Vice is narrated by Kurt, a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The film follows Cheney from his 1963 arrest for driving while intoxicated to the present time. As many biopics tend to go, this one focuses on events in a general manner and gloss over little details. One example is the allegation that White House officials leaked Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity as a covert CIA agent to the press; it was barely a blip on the radar in Vice.
Joining Bale is an all-star cast consisting of Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld, Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush, Alison Pill as Mary Cheney, Lilly Rabe as Liz Cheney, Tyler Perry as Colin Powell, Justin Kirk as Scooter Libby, Jesse Plemons as Kurt, and a brief cameo from Alfred Molina.
My favorite part of Vice was Carell’s portrayal of Secretary Rumsfeld. Larger-than-life and purely delightful, Carell absolutely stole the show. During one scene that took place shortly after Cheney was hired to work in the Nixon Administration, he asked Rumsfeld, “What do we believe?” Rumsfeld burst into hysterical laughter, shut his office door, and could be heard carrying on for a while. I was in stitches the entire time.
In a sense, the subject matter of Vice is more topical than ever before and the film couldn’t have been released at a more opportune time. With President Donald J. Trump currently at the helm, our country is in an ongoing conversation about the power of the presidency and the consequences of political extremism.
There are times when Vice feels like another left-wing hit piece. In the end, though, I found that my mind was sufficiently stimulated by the content and it encouraged me to think more critically about politics in general. You almost have to admire Cheney for being so determined, and ultimately successful, in his quest for power. Almost…
I give Vice four out of five stars.