Filled to the brim with eye-opening power plays delivered with excellence. It’s a Vice that just kept on giving with frequently witty scenarios and liberal intelligence.
In his latest, director Adam McKay takes a leaf out of his own structural efforts from The Big Short and planted them seamlessly into his latest ‘biographical’ move. He delves into the world of Republican politics, and the power base that lurked in the shadows, none other than Dick Cheney, a man who never went for the presidential seat but still ran the White House to his own advantage.
As with The Big Short, the rags to riches, based on a true (ish) story has a narrated backbone during the milestone moments of Cheney’s career. Starting off his adult life as a bit of a loser, with no job prospects and a bit of a drinking problem it’s down to his long-suffering wife Lynne (Amy Adams) to give him the preverbal kick up the backside to do something with his life.
The set-up has a natural flow with assured pacing that mimics the persona of Cheney. Entering the world of politics as an intern under the over-confident and power delusional Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell). He sits back and listens and breathes in every minute detail, learning his craft until he becomes Rumsfeld’s, right-hand man.
He makes his way up the ranks to become secretary of defence under George Bush Sr, only to take a hiatus during the Clinton administration in which he takes the comfortable position of CEO at a multinational oil company setting him up for life. Finally making it back to the White House as Vice President for the playboy president George Bush Jr (Sam Rockwell), a position in which he could have actually been the one in power stirring Bush in the directions he wanted to take the U.S.
Gaining a substantial amount of weight on top of the fat suit, sweaty and sometimes incoherent, Christian Bale’s Cheney has a glaring likeness; it’s easy to see that Bale had a whale of a time playing the cunningly ambitious man. There is a deadpan hilarity about his portrayal, one minute he is on stage giving the speech only to come off stage and matter of fact announce he needs to go to the hospital. Even with standout supporting actors, this is very much Bale’s movie and the awards nods are inherently justified.
But it’s never over until the fat lady sings and sticks two fingers up at anyone who may think the movie is a bit one-sided. McKay goes as far as to address the ridiculous of the badly run Trump-era in a post-credits scene that is both highly amusing whilst declaring this in fact for liberal audiences and a few snowflakes may just feel offended at the stab of yet another corrupt Republican official.
With Shakespearean fantasy scenes, McKay never goes too deep into the political boredom and keeps this entertaining and thoroughly absorbing from beginning to end and throws in cleverly set-up twist that shockingly unravels just when you thought Cheney’s time had come in pulling the strings. He certainly was the puppet master.
Vice is out in cinemas January 25th