“Vice” is an inside look at former Vice President Dick Cheney, a longtime Republican bureaucrat who was a power player for a couple of decades.
You see the saucy D.C. government sausage being made with savory, salty and fatty elements in “Vice,” a satiric and somewhat heavy-handed exposé into the political machinery, specifically during Republican presidential terms with Cheney’s shrewd involvement.
Writer-director Adam McKay, who won an Oscar for skewering the people responsible for the economic crash of 2008 in “The Big Short,” tries the same tactics, but the Fourth Wall isn’t as effective here. The unwieldy story hammers home how the game is played, and while the script is often clever, the pointed barbs are such obvious targets. For a comedy, there isn’t much to laugh about in this choppy stew.
However, the performances are first-rate. Christian Bale goes all method, capturing Cheney’s physical appearance and distinct speaking style as President George W. Bush’s vice president. Sam Rockwell’s role as the 43rd president is brief, but he’s terrific. So is Steve Carell as abrasive operator Donald Rumsfeld.
The intent is to show the GOP strings being pulled, but we aren’t really enlightened with anything new.
The old adage that politics make strange bedfellows is exemplified by Amy Adams, in a variation of her “The Master” role as Lynne Cheney, a steely operative hell-bent on climbing up the ladder fast. She’s portrayed as a high-stakes manipulator, not above throwing her gay daughter under the bus. The Wyoming tranquility of their personal life is in sharp contrast to the shark-infested waters of D.C.
A running gag is Cheney’s bad heart, and as the narrator, Jesse Plemons is notable. The editing works as a swirling whirlwind, but everyone is expected to be up to speed on the topics.
This disappointing film turns out to be as divided as our country’s current climate.