The life and career of Dick Cheney, brought to us by the man who managed to tell the story of the 2008 financial crisis and make it funny. Vice follows Cheney from his humble beginnings as a blue collar worker to being the most powerful Vice President in US history.
Not so long ago, if you'd have said to me there's a movie coming out about Dick Cheney, I probably would have laughed at the idea. But mention that Adam McKay is writing and directing, and that changes everything. The man behind such comedy classics as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby has already shown us he can do serious (kind of) with The Big Short. McKay was able to make the financial crisis understandable, in a light-hearted fashion that didn't underplay the seriousness of the situation. Now he has put his unique spin on the story of a man known for having absolutely no charisma whatsoever, and actually made him interesting...and funny.
Helping McKay out on his quest to tell the tale of Cheney is a fantastic cast. Christian Bale really has mastered Cheney's mannerisms, between that and his physical transformation, it's like he really has become the former Vice President. The same can almost be said of Sam Rockwell, whose performance is nothing short of hilarious. Watching Bush and Cheney discuss the VP appointment over a plate of chicken wings - as one analyses his future running mate to gauge the balance of power, and the other eats chicken - is a sight to behold. Even Steve Carell is having fun as Donald Rumsfeld. However, it's Lynne Cheney, and Amy Adams powerhouse performance that stand out. Knowing little to nothing about her, it was interesting to learn that she really was the woman behind the man. Lynne was the one to give Dick the kick up the arse that set him on course to becoming arguably the most powerful man in the world, and Adams is the perfect choice for such a role.
At times the story does jump around a bit, switching between the events of 9/11 - a major turning point for Cheney, as well as the rest of the world - and Cheney's younger days. But McKay's attempts to show us the massive contrast between the young, drunk fuck-up and the man he would become, do pay off. If like me, you know very little about the former VP, it's likely that - also like me - you had no idea he started off on a very different path to the one he would end up on. As despicable as the man is, and lets face it, he's about two steps short of becoming a Bond villain, but he has had an impressive career. Once again, a large part of that is due to Lynne. At times it's hard to tell which one of them is the more devout Republican, they were Nixon supporters after all.
However, what makes Vice so brilliant is the way McKay tells the story. And I'm not talking about his serious yet very humorous approach, although that is brilliant. In fact his ability to make politics and finance entertaining, especially to those who hate politics and finance is a stroke of pure genius! But I'm talking about the method. You see, much like in The Big Short, McKay employs a narrator. Unlike The Big Short, where a gaggle of celebrities explain the situation, Vice relies on just one person, a regular guy called Kurt (Jesse Plemmons). Kurt is tangentially linked to the story, and in quite a shocking way...it will literally shock you. Nevertheless, there is something about the way he tells the story. Maybe it's good writing combined with a great performance. But McKay and Plemmons have taken an age old method of storytelling and done something a bit different with it.
Once again Adam McKay has used his unique abilities to bring to light an incredible true story. I think it's safe to say that if other directors had approached this story - much like the financial crisis - they would have made something interesting, but I doubt it would be anywhere near this entertaining. McKay has made one of the world's least charismatic people interesting to watch, and it's hilarious! I for one can't wait to see the next instalment in what McKay has called his "What The Fuck Is Going On" trilogy.
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