WORTH A LOOK?: *****
RUN TIME: 132 minutes
WHEN?: Released in the UK 25/1/19
Christian Bale reportedly gained 40 pounds rendering him almost unrecognisable to play former US Vice President Dick Cheney and for us this transformation and quiet, authoritative performance makes him the main rival to Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) for this year’s Best Actor Oscar.
- Read on for reasons including how this follow up to The Big Short is our film of 2019 so far
This is writer/director Adam McKay’s follow up to 2015’s The Big Short which won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar and fans of that will find much that appeals here.
Vice is narrated by Kurt, a fictitious veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. It opens with Cheney and other White House officials responding to the September 11 attacks.
McKay then flashes back to Cheney’s unpromising origins in Wyoming in 1963 where he struggles with alcohol until he is convinced by his brilliant but somewhat sidelined wife Lynne to clean up his act.
We flash forward to 1969 when Cheney finds work as a White House intern during the Nixon administration and encounters Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell giving an electric performance). Cheney learns his trade, recognises an opportunity presented by George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell as good as he was in Three Billboards) to be Vice President and uses legal advice to advance his own agenda.
What follows is complex and McKay is unafraid to avoid the stylistic devices that peppered The Big Short with clear explanations of what is happening, characters occasionally spouting outrageous nonsense and even a false ending about midway through the film.
Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction and when 1 of Cheney’s daughters comes out as a lesbian we are presented about three-quarters of the way through with the perhaps surprising way that the family comes to terms with it.
Vice is a biographical comedy-drama that challenges its viewers with a complex take on recent history that pays off considerably if you can go with it.
We’ve never been particular fans of Bale’s but his brilliant turn here pips Malek for us and we’d like to see him win the Best Actor Oscar because he conveys clearly how devastating a quiet politician lacking in charisma can be.