Throughout his political career, Dick Cheney became known for many things, chief among them was his secretive actions and his unwillingness to let people in on the truths going on in the United States government. Nine years after his departure from the Vice Presidency, Cheney’s life and role in history are further explored in “Vice” (2018). From Annapurna Pictures and writer/director Adam McKay, creator of “The Big Short” (2015), “Vice” (2018) spans the time period from when Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) dropped out of Yale University to his becoming Vice President for the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell). In that time, Cheney became one of the most powerful, influential people in not only the United States of America, but the entire world.
Coming off the critical success of “The Big Short” (2015), writer/director Adam McKay had set a high bar for his future productions, and even if “Vice” (2018) doesn’t meet those expectations, it’s still an enjoyable film. In terms of direction, McKay does a fantastic job bringing a creative, comedic, and entertaining vision to his newest motion picture. He brings Dick Cheney’s thought process to life in a creative way, switching between scenes of Cheney politically manipulating and maneuvering his colleagues with almost surreal glimpses of his mundane personal life, showing him fishing and hunting. McKay does this to comment on how Cheney was doing basically the same thing, reeling in people (and fish) to where he wanted them. Furthermore, the editing of the film is stellar. One can tell that each scene was carefully devised and organized, not rushed in any way, nor lasting for a superfluous amount of time. That said, there is too much information covered for one film and just too many details to process, so even with great editing, the film can get confusing and even, boring. The film, which is 2 hours and 12 minutes long, winds up feeling more like it’s three hours, which isn’t as good thing. This major weakness is a result of the script. It’s a hard predicament because “Vice” (2018) touches upon all the important information, but just not enough to be cohesive, and yet if it’s runtime was extended, you could be looking at a film lasting potentially over four hours. Cheney’s life may just be too large for one film to handle.
The acting in the film from every performer was magnificent. Christian Bale in the titular role was particularly masterful, his likeness to the real Dick Cheney being uncanny. Bale gained 40lbs and bleached his eyebrows for this role, helping bring Cheney to life and the make-up team did wonders, making he, and all the other cast members in the film, remarkably identical to the characters they portray. Bale and the other actors do more than just imitate though; they truly bring to life the cast of the political players of the early 21st century. Academy Award-winner Christian Bale (on the right, below), in particular, delivers one of the best performances of his career. There were moments in the film I honestly forgot that the man on screen was Christian Bale and not Dick Cheney. Bale is not only playing the part of Cheney, he has become him. Supporting him, Steve Carell brings a hilarious flair to his role as Donald Rumsfeld; Amy Adams is incredible as Lynne Cheney; and Sam Rockwell gives another award-worthy performance as George W. Bush. There is nothing to complain about “Vice” (2018) in regards to the cast.
There has been criticism of the film arguing that the story is inaccurate and one sided and important individuals, like Condoleezza Rice, are given small roles, barely making an appearance. Furthermore, even characters that are included, like George Bush, are portrayed in unfair ways; in his case where he is usually depicted as an imbecile and puppet, repeatedly just saying “yes” to any and all demands of Cheney when in reality, Bush is an intelligent person with more nuances to both him and his role in history.
Since its release on December 25, 2018, “Vice” has made almost $40 million worldwide (as of January 15, 2019). Most may consider this a large number, but when you compare it to other period piece films and biopics such as “The Big Short” (2015), which made just under $150 million worldwide, and “The Wolf Of Wall Street” (2013), which grossed $392 million, it is fair to call “Vice” (2018) an economic disaster for Annapurna Pictures. Critics have been divided over Adam McKay’s biopic. Metacritic gave the film a 61%; Rotten Tomatoes’ “Critics Score” boiled down to a 63%, with an “Audience Score” of 54%, and IMDb gave the film a 7.1/10. Critics and major news outlets such as The Washington Times and New York Times have panned “Vice” (2018) for its historical inaccuracies, something they attribute to the film’s liberal slant. It’s not so simple that Dick Cheney manipulated everyone and should take the blame for the mistakes of that time; in reality, Cheney was not alone in his control of the White House.
All in all,“Vice” (2018) is still an enjoyable watch and one I can safely recommend. While my personal rating for the film is a 64%, other Grace Church students have opinions of their own on “Vice” (2018).
Jackson Sohn, Class of 2020. Rating: 83%
“It’s all over the place at times, but I still really enjoyed it.”
Luke Roshkow, Class of 2021. Rating: 78%
“I liked ‘Vice’ (2018). Christian Bale was really good.”
Otto Landesman, Class of 2020. Rating: 88%
“‘Vice’ (2018) is a great movie profiting off of the comedic style of ‘The Big Short’ (2015).”