New To On Demand: Vice

Vice © 2018 Annapurna Pictures, LLC All Rights Reserved. CreditL Matt Kennedy

Who is Dick Cheney?

Vice, from director Adam McKay (The Big Short) takes a look at the former vice president with a darkly comedic tone, showing us the man who rose from lower-level positions in Washington, D.C., to become second-in-command of one of the world’s largest superpowers.

To tell the story of Vice, we need to really ask, who is Dick Cheney (Christian Bale)? Cheney came to the nation’s capital with the desire to become more powerful. As he started working with Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), he got a taste of the buffet that is Washington. All he knew was that he wanted more, and his wife Lynne (Amy Adams) expected more.

But where to go next?

As he progressed through the halls of government, Cheney quickly became known as one of the most influential figures in politics. That stature would lead him to an offer from Gov. George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) to become Bush’s running mate. This offer, on the surface seemed to be a demotion that would reduce Cheney’s control all while situating him a heartbeat away from the presidency. Instead, Cheney would take a once largely ceremonial position and create a role of far more prominence, adding to his own legacy in the process.

While dealing with a story that is fairly straightforward, writer/director McKay brings in the largely comedic elements and plays them for laughs amid the chaos of government. The film doesn’t hide the fact that it has a liberal lean to it. In fact, there is a closing credits scene that all but acknowledges the film’s tone in a humorous and fun way.

It’s not the political bent that makes Vice worthy or unworthy of your hard-earned dollars. It’s the actors and their roles. Bale used his all-in approach to actually gain more than 40 pounds instead of using any prosthetics in an attempt to faithfully embody all of Cheney’s physical features, along with his mannerisms and attitudes. Rockwell plays Bush in a quite cartoony manner but is good at implying that Bush was less than in charge during his administration. In contrast, Adams is in charge at every turn as Lynne, who, as the film would have it, might actually have been the woman in charge of everything.

As a film, it is fun and light and never really takes itself too seriously — note the rolling credits at around 30 minutes in as the story seems to have concluded. (Of course, it’s not the end, and the story moves forward.)

Vice is a film that features an absolutely loaded cast of extremely talented individuals taking on a politically charged individual and story. The film quickly takes charge of McKay’s story, but feels like it falls a bit flat as a whole. I felt there was more there to be had. More edge or more humor or more edgy humor, but, most of all, more of the story that could have been shared with us.

Vice is available On Demand and on DVD beginning April 2. Check your cable system for availability