Harrison Walter’s review published on Letterboxd:
The very intro of this movie basically has McKay apologizing to the audience and saying, "We tried our fucking best." This doesn't inspire confidence. At the very end of the movie, mid-way through the credits, a conservative character criticizes the movie for being too liberal and a liberal character corrects him that this movie was all facts. Oh, and the normal people in the room are too stupid to care. The normal people are you, the audience, in case you didn't get what he's going for. Adam McKay is calling you, the audience, stupid if you're not one of these people. You can't make up how awful this writing is, guys.
I've seen every one of Adam McKay's movies and other than this one, I'm generally a fan (going to pretend his podcast didn't exist too). But this made me want to change my minds. It's like McKay is trying to actively make movies worse and worse.
It's so incredibly obvious he's trying to repeat the same pattern that won him an Oscar in 2016. But it really doesn't work here. The narrative framing is one of the dumbest gimmicks I've ever seen (dude, that's the whole point of organ donation. You're going to take away the gift that guy gave to the world for your political agenda?!). So many of the creative choices are just bizarre and it seems like McKay rushed this. Why the fuck do we hear a third-person narrator for the entire film except for one scene when we hear Dick Cheney's inner monologue?! It jumps around in time for no apparent reason and re-uses the same footage over and over. It's not even interesting footage. The film had such an incredibly hard time with tone that when there were techniques like using stock footage throughout, which are supposed to be funny (I think?), when they fall flat, it comes off as incredibly obnoxious.
It's the least charitable portrayal of a political figure I've seen since Oliver Stone's "W." I expected this part, but McKay also fails at trying to humanize Cheney, and it becomes so much stupider. Again, the only strength here is the acting, but it spans such a ridiculous range of time that you still never feel like you know who Dick Cheney is at the time. Why even include the scenes of Cheney when he was younger?! Again, you could go back to McKay's excuse at the beginning of the film but most directors don't have to give excuses as to why their film sucks, or at least, not at the beginning of the film. Why even bother making this if you don't have anything new to say?!
Politically, the characters pause on some of the points, trying to give them weight, without even considering what actual Republicans think (that maybe they are not power-hungry monsters and have good intentions). There are only a handful of times they look directly into the camera and speak to the audience, I think (ugh). The biggest issue I have is that there are real political issues here that need to be addressed, but they're portrayed SO poorly. Because of the way that Rumsfeld comes off, everything he says just feels like he is being portrayed in a petty way. It feels like those theater scenes in Game of Thrones when people portray their political enemies as complete idiots.
At the end of the movie, I walked out more angry at the filmmakers than the politicians (whom I also don't care for), which is a really bad sign.
Also, Dick Cheney is responsible for ISIS. Yeah, I know it's a stretch and there's MANY MANY factors that lead to this kind of thing, but in this movie, it is 100% Dick Cheney's fault.