Never underestimate a backseat driver!
Direction (Adam McKay), Screenplay (Adam McKay), Cast (Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell), Length (132 minutes), Rating (R)
I must admit that before I walked into the cinema I knew almost nothing about Dick Cheney, other than what the trailer told me. And now, after watching this film, I can’t stop thinking about him, his story, the world he lived in and his legacy that we live in as a result of his decisions.
Briefly charting his small town life from Casper, Wyoming in 1963 and Bethesda, Maryland ten years later, we watch in awe at his steady ascent through the ranks of power in the big city of Washington D.C. to become one of the most powerful politicians in history.
Dazzlingly written, directed and produced by Adam McKay, who has received Oscar and Golden Globes nominations for each of these three credits, has constructed an eye-popping portrayal of a frightening hunger for money and power that can never be satisfied regardless of sacrifice. Checks and balances? More like moves and countermoves.
Money and power. It seems such an obvious, ancient and material desire, at least for some, that one wonders why. Considering the supposed enlightenment of mankind to realise more significant unquantifiable achievements, greater than the physical limitations of accumulating money and ambiguous idea of harnessing power, why does the quest for more and more than others consume those to abandon all else in pursuit of a goal that has no definable goalposts?
In the end, are these voyagers actually in control of anyone, or is it the thought of greater amounts of money and power that control them? You decide.
Nominated for eights Oscars, six BAFTAs and six Golden Globes in total, ‘Vice’ is an enthralling, energetic and entertaining political satire that also ridicules the clichés of biographical films with glorious misdirection on multiple occasions. Brilliantly unconventional and unashamedly glamorous, the film travels at a lightning pace buoyed by an eclectic ensemble of supporting players.
As the leading player, Christian Bale delivers yet another transformative performance as Cheney, channeling his Batman voice for the older version of a character whose addiction for money and power elevates him to the super-duper upper class of government.
Upon assuming this position, he amasses alarming control and influence to thwart legislation supposed to prevent one person gaining and maintaining such direct domination of an entire administration. With help from the like minded, of course.
Constant media manipulation and incomprehensible political spin leave a disorientated and disengaged populace in the perfect frame of mind. If we don’t care what our elected leaders do, they have no reason to care about us either and will act against our interests in favour of their own aims. Sound familiar? If it does, then money and power are still those pointless aims. I’m stereotyping, I know.
By winning the Golden Globe (in the Musical/Comedy category) and two Critics Choice Awards for Best Actor (overall and in the comedy category), Bale was the clear frontrunner for the Oscar until Rami Malek (who also won the Golden Globe in the Drama category) claimed the Best Actor prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Both have been nominated at the BAFTAs and Oscars leaving the awards race for this honour more unpredictable and therefore much more interesting.
While Bale has rightly dominated the leading categories, Amy Adams as Lynne Vincent Cheney and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush have also deservedly received Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globes nominations in the supporting categories. Behind Bush stands Cheney, but behind Cheney stands his wife, who is a force to be reckoned with and almost as ambitious as her husband. Who controls whom?
Although inexplicably overlooked by awards bodies, it would have been nice to see Steve Carell represented here for his wonderfully bombastic turn as Donald Rumsfeld. Unlike these masterful operators that never missed an opportunity when it presented itself, this opportunity to highlight good work is now gone.
If you’re not interested in politics, this film will persuade you otherwise.
‘Vice’ is in cinemas now.