Vice ★★★½

In the modern days of social media, YouTube, and a plethora of *news* outlets, information both accurate and inaccurate spreads like wildfire. In the days of Dick Cheney, these information outlets were few. He was a very private man that could work in darkness, and he probably hoped a man like Adam McKay never existed to display his entire life, warts and all, in a damning film for the world to see.

The material itself is fascinating, not just from an entertainment standpoint but from a historical perspective too. I was too young to appreciate the politics of the Bush term, but being older I realize it was nearly as interesting as the current political landscape. The superb performance by Christian Bale is such a transformation, and one that truly feels like a full-bodied character rather than just an imitation. Every little verbal and body queue looks so natural, the level of detail reflects a man who drowned himself in research until his eyeballs nearly fell out of his head. I really hope these rapid weight changes he makes doesn’t kill him by age 55. I also thoroughly enjoyed Rockwell’s rambunctious Bush portrayal, and I pray for America’s sake he wasn’t as much of an idiot as he was made out to be.

McKay’s direction never quite hits the mark. He aims for drama so much that his comedy often feels off-beat. When he does go for comedy, he never fully commits. The narration style that was so effective in The Big Short felt forced and overused. Too much of Cheney’s life is attempted to be covered. Many of his decisions just didn’t payoff, so the film rarely ever feels like a home run.

Alas, I was slightly disappointed this wasn’t an overwhelming success given the remarkable talent at all levels of involvement. McKay consistently goes for the jugular by going for brutal exposure at the expense of making a great film. One can’t help but absorb everything that he shows like a sponge, and I think that was his main goal. If the film has one major success, it’s reigniting my interest in American politics. The Trump circus was starting to get annoying.

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