Vice is a biographical film that chronicles the life and career of Dick Cheney, who has often been named by historians as the most powerful Vice President in U.S. history.
From getting DUIs in his rural youth to starting out as a congressional intern in Washington D.C. in the 1960s, this film does a compelling and efficient job at showing the various stages of Cheney’s career before he became Vice President under George W. Bush from 2001 – 2008. This career included serving in the House of Representatives for Wyoming and being Secretary of Defense under President George Bush Sr.
Written and directed by Oscar-winner Adam McKay (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, 2013) Vice might seem one-sided to some viewers, but you can’t accuse it of being boring. Like McKay’s 2015 hit film, The Big Short, the often tedious complexities of politics, leadership, money, and their connections to personal relationships are brilliantly and entertainingly illustrated in Vice. Through jarring music cuts, swift editing, and darkly acute writing, Vice has an enthusiastic comedic edge that is illuminating at times and infuriating in others (much like politics itself).
Oscar-winner Christian Bale (American Hustle, 2013) plays Cheney in a fully-realized transformation of a quiet man with a matter-of-fact worldview, grumbly voice, and ruthless ambition whose crafty political decisions are still reverberating in our country today. Vice gets a little heavy-handed at the end painting Cheney, literally, as a black-hearted villain. This film could have been more balanced if this man’s unlikely political journey has more of his own humanity, or his own perspective included.
I didn’t walk away from this film with my hand clutching my chest in amazement. But I did walk away thinking a lot about the aspects of political leadership and political power.