Movie Review: “Vice”
Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) was not always a successful and powerful man. In his youth, he was kicked out of college for drinking and getting into fights. Not long after that, his lifestyle started jeopardizing his low-paying jobs. He had the love of his life at his side, but she could only take so much. Eventually, Lynne (Amy Adams) decided that enough was enough. She pushed him to get himself together and to become the successful man she knew he could be, so that he could provide for her and their family.
After that, Dick Cheney’s life would never be the same. He decided to get into politics, and made a name for himself alongside his mentor, Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell). Eventually, Dick Cheney became the most powerful and most reputable man in the Republican party. This made him the only logical choice when George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) was seeking a Vice President for his campaign for presidency. What no one realized at the time was that Dick Cheney saw an opportunity. He had his own idea of the role he would play as Vice President, and no one would see him coming.
The Pros & Cons
Christian Bale (+8pts)
The Editing (-3pts)
Dick Cheney (+10pts)
Too Much (-3pts)
Steve Carell & Amy Adams (+4pts)
Pro: Christian Bale (+8pts)
I am sure this will not come as a surprise to anyone, but Christian Bale did a great job of transforming himself into Dick Cheney. I personally do not think the extent of his physical transformation was necessary, as it cannot be healthy for the actor to fluctuate in size like that, but this transformation was much more than the physical appearance. I do not have any idea of what Dick Cheney actually sounds like, but the accent that Christian Bale used and the way he moved his mouth while he spoke, made this a very convincing performance. He really became Dick Cheney on the screen, which was really fun to watch. Christian Bale has made a career out of impressive physical transformations paired with impressive performances, and this movie is another great example of the guy's incredible talent and determination.
Con: The Editing (-3pts)
I found the editing of this movie to be a bit jarring. The movie constantly jumps back and forth in time and, while Dick Cheney’s appearance was a pretty good indicator of the time period that any given scene took place, it always took a bit of a mental adjustment. I would go from being totally invested in one scene at one point of time, only to switch to a new scene where I had to adjust and tell myself “okay, this is taking place much earlier” or “okay, this is taking place much later”. Maybe I am just a dummy that struggled to follow this method of storytelling, but I feel like I am not alone here. I do not think it significantly hurt the movie, because I was never lost, but the constant readjusting felt unnecessary and worth mentioning in this review. It did not help that the filmmakers threw in a handful of random, silly clips, as if they were trying to make a viral video (you will know what I mean if you have seen the movie).
Pro: Dick Cheney (+10pts)
Going into this movie, I did not know much about Dick Cheney. While I am sure there were some historical inaccuracies in order to further dramatize the movie, I felt like the filmmakers did a really good job with telling his story. The guy achieved power that many thought was impossible for anyone in the whitehouse, let alone the vice presidency. It really felt like he was playing a chess game against people who did not even know they were playing.
He was a master of the political craft. Did everything go his way? Certainly not, but it was fascinating to see the power that he achieved and the way he achieved it. It was then interesting to see how he used that power, as well as the toll it all took on him. This was a story about the fascinating life of a man I had previously known nothing about.
Con: Too Much (-3pts)
This is usually an issue that I have with movies that are based on real people. Like so many biopics, Vice tried to cram a lot of the main character’s life into the movie. With this movie, we get most of Dick Cheney’s life, not all of which felt like it contributed much to the story. Some scenes, and some facts about Dick Cheney, could have been removed from the story entirely and the movie would have felt almost no different. The one difference would have been that the movie would have felt more refined.
The problem was that the filmmakers had an entire life to tell, but only two hours to tell it, and they did not seem to want to trim the story down any further than they probably already did. I did not need to see him as a drunk, and I did not need to see his time as a young man. It slowed the movie down, made it feel longer than it was, and was (more or less) unnecessary. However there was a fake out credit sequence, which I enjoyed quite a bit.
Pro: Steve Carell & Amy Adams (+4pts)
The supporting cast, as a whole, was really strong, but there were certainly a couple standouts. Amy Adams was not given a character that had a whole lot to do, but she was a character that was meant to drive and inspire Dick Cheney. At that, Amy Adams was very effective. Steve Carell played Dick Cheney’s mentor. The guy was charismatic, had a cutthroat view of politics, and took a liking to Dick Cheney. Donald Rumsfeld was fun to watch, and I think Steve Carell’s strong performance was largely responsible for that. I have seen both Amy Adams and Steve Carell give better performances than they did in this movie, but they still have strong performances here, which made for effective supporting characters.
Con: Kurt (-2pts)
This was a part of the movie that I did not think made much sense. Before the film’s end, I thought it was going to have hurt the movie more, but the ending of the movie redeemed this storyline a bit. Kurt (Jesse Plemons) is a character that narrates most of the movie. There is no clear connection between him and Dick Cheney until the end of the movie, but the filmmakers never explain how this character supposedly knows all of this information about Dick Cheney. In other words, the filmmakers never justify why Kurt is the one narrating this story. The only reason I can think of is that the filmmakers had a story that did not have a twist ending, but they wanted to throw a twist ending in there anyway. The ending worked to an extent, but everything leading up to that ending did not make any sense or justify making him the narrator.
Grade: B+ (89pts)
Vice was a movie about an interesting man, who I knew little about, with a great cast. The editing felt a bit choppy, but the story was enough to maintain my interest. Christian Bale has transformed, once again, and delivered another impressive performance. He is joined by a strong cast with Amy Adams, Steve Carell, and Sam Rockwell. Everyone in this movie played their part, and they played their part well, but it was the main character’s story that made this so fascinating.
I knew very little about Dick Cheney before going into this movie. I pretty much only knew that he was George W. Bush’s Vice President, and that he shot a guy in the face. With that in mind, I found this movie to be fascinating. His story is both compelling and entertaining. I did not find it to be perfectly executed by the filmmakers, but I was interested in this movie from beginning to end. Again, it was not perfect, but had an interesting story and a very strong cast.