Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell Sam Rockwell
Directed by Adam McKay
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
Running time 132 minutes
Opens: January 10th
While serving as the CEO of a multinational corporation, former US Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney is approached by presidential candidate George W Bush to head a search committee to appoint his Vice president. It doesn’t take long for Cheney to offer himself as a candidate but only if his duties can be expanded to oversee the military and US foreign policy.
Director Adam McKay gives us an exhaustingly entertaining movie. Dick Cheney served as the 46th vice president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He is remembered as the most powerful vice president in American history although he was also one of the least popular politicians with an approval rating on leaving office of 13%.
People upset today with the antics of Donald Trump also treated Dick Cheney the same way back in his day except it was handled so differently there was hardly a ripple in the beginning. “Vice” uses dark humor and creative editing to breakdown complicated information about a number of corrupt people. The film’s greatest strength is the performance of Christian Bale, who really nails the Cheney character with the former vice president’s mannerisms: gravel voice, tilting head and eyes filled with nothing but contempt. His performance is complemented by Amy Adams, who brings light and shade to the complex former Second Lady, Lynne Cheney. Adam McKay directs Adams to play a brilliant, ambitious, and equally ruthless woman; in fact it’s Lynne who sets Cheney on the path to becoming the most powerful and destructive vice president in history. Cheney’s rise occurs during a congressional intern orientation speech by then-GOP congressman Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell and the young Cheney is instantly taken by the man’s sleazy charm. Politically Cheney decides he’s a Republican simply because Rumsfeld is.
As Cheney navigates the halls of influence we are treated to the origins of some of the most corrosive ideas in American politics including the “unitary executive theory” that nothing a president does is illegal and therefore cannot be prosecuted. Shades of the Trump situation today, to add balance, we see the ruthlessness Cheney as a devoted family man, who is fiercely protective of his wife and children, especially his Gay daughter who came out at high school. As close as Dick Cheney is to George W. Bush, the 43rd president is only a supporting character here with Cheney ceasing the opportunity to become the real power behind the Presidents throne.
With the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre the politicians were struggling emotionally and Cheney saw an opportunity. An opportunity to invade Iraq that would pay rich dividends for the company that Cheney had once presided over, Halliburton.
The film’s title makes a three way statement referring to Cheney’s position, the strength of his grip on power and his amoral character. This is a fascinating expose of a man who was a drunken college dropout who went on to become the most powerful vice president America has ever known.
Score: 8 out of 10