Director: Adam McKay
Talent: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carrell, Sam Rockwell
Released: 25 January
Dick Cheney (Bale) was the 46th Vice President of the United States serving under George W. Bush (Rockwell) from 2001 to 2009. To many, he exemplified all that stank of that administration by previously serving as CEO of oil company Halliburton between 1995 and 2000. Decisions such as the invasion of Iraq were seen as brazenly blurring the lines of politics and business to the benefit of this Fortune 500 company among others.
In Vice, writer-director Adam McKay further steps away from his Will Ferrell comic collaborations (Anchorman) to flex more dramatic muscle. This is his follow-up to the acclaimed The Big Short. He also directed the underrated runner-up TV series of the year – Succession (pipped by Homecoming).
McKay assembles a top drawer cast led by Bale with Adams playing his wife Lynne. Tracing their ascendancy to the upper echelons of power from a somewhat unpromising start, Cheney embedded himself in the political machinations of Washington since the early seventies. initially connecting with fellow Neo-Con hawk Donald Rumsfeld (Carrell). Vice is a tremendously enjoyable whizz through touchstone moments of American politics from the late ‘60s onwards. The dark art of politics is swaggeringly evident and shadowy forgotten names such as Scooter Libby and Frank Luntz pop up. McKay is keen to illustrate Cheney as the real underhanded power supplementing Bush’s ineffectual leadership to his own ends and those of his cronies. He was also a proponent of “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding.
McKay is unapologetic in his liberal leanings, there’s even a send up of potential criticisms as the credits roll. And ultimately, your political persuasions will colour your take on Vice. It’s a solid satirical takedown of Cheney, his cohorts and all they stand for. Ironically, for all his vices Cheney was nothing if not consistent and rationale in all of his appallingness. Whilst watching it, I couldn’t help wondering who will end up playing Trump when McKay decides to tackle that unfolding nachtmare. In the interim, one can merely prolong the despair or celebrate the triumphalism by watching McKay’s highly entertaining political highball.
Words: Michael McDermott