Vice (2018) Review

vice

RATING: 3/5

SPOILERS

Directed by Adam McKay, “Vice” details the events of Dick Cheney as he moves up in the White House over the many decades. Until in the Bush administration, that he becomes the most powerful vice president in U.S history.

First things first, the performances in the movie were all really good, especially for both Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Sam Rockwell. They all do their roles solid. One can tell that Bale embodies Cheney with not just in the way he looks physically, but in the way, he portrays the man in his voice and attitude. But still, though Bale did gain some extra pounds and I do commend him for that commitment. Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney does very well in her role, as a caring wife who wants to see his husband reach life to the very fullest. She will do everything to be at Dick’s side, even if some of those things may impact the world in a negative light.

Sam Rockwell does a really good George W. Bush performance. I got the most laughs from him in this movie. His scenes with Dick were funny and entertaining to watch. I wish there were more scenes with those two.

Now “Vice” details Dick moving up in the White House, to which I think the film did a fine job at representing that. It is crazy about how much an intern can have that much power over the course of 30-40 years. But yes, the progression of Dick’s rise to power was an interesting journey to witness. Him starting off as a guy who gets into fights and had drunk parties as a youngster. Until his wife had to yell at him to fix his life and turn it around. But not only is the political side of Dick shown, but also his personal life and family struggles. The film does well at balancing out the two side plots. It was an interesting experience of seeing a man turn into a figure to do all of these heinous and horrible acts for the United States.

The film’s style/direction is something worth noting and where some of my complaints begin. Vice feels like a mixture a biopic and a documentary. I say documentary because, for one, the whole film is narrated by Jesse Clemons. Not only he’s the narrator but he is an actual character and he’s also the anonymous heart donor for Cheney toward the end. The film inter-cuts periodically for the narrator himself to give insights into whatever Dick was doing during certain pivotal moments in U.S history. The twist of him being the heart donor was quite a surprise, seeing that he said that he and Dick were cousins, but not really. Albeit it could have better if there wasn’t an obnoxious, loud jump scare for when the narrator gets hit by a car.

The documentary feel continues with the film cutting back to all sorts of images and various clips. These short segments would be interwoven into the film to either enhance a certain feel for what is happening in Dick’s life, the climate of the U.S, or the climate of the world. For example, when Dick is losing his life toward the end, the film cuts to a CG heart beating or a cuckoo clock ringing when he has health complications. There are times when the film uses what appears to be real-life footage and then the actors are placed in those backgrounds to make it feel more immersed. The green screen work is sometimes good, but for the rest, it looked pretty dodgy/unconvincing.

This documentary-style decision, while it was cool and an interesting choice, made the movie lose its identity. While watching, I was confused about how there are elements of a documentary and biopic juxtaposed together. It seemed like the movie didn’t know what genre it wanted to choose. Thus it made the pacing and structure of the movie kind of all of over the place. At points, there were slow moments and it was dragging some. On the other end of the spectrum, there were times the movie went by too fast. The moment when Obama is elected President is when the movie went fast forward. Now this movie is mainly talking about Republicans, which I can understand why Clinton and Obama were gleaned over.

The movie spends a large portion showing Dick’s influence in the Bush Jr. Administration. This and the scenes toward the beginning depicting Dick’s rise in the Nixon Administration were handled well. But the other portions, especially when we get to Obama, needed to be fleshed out more.

The comedy presented in the movie I thought was good. Like I mentioned before the Dick and Bush scenes were some of the best. There was another scene worth noting, involving Dick and his colleagues ordering their meals. Those meals, for the most part, include doing whatever the hell they want in the White House. But a lot of times I felt the comedy made the whole movie just seem goofy and ridiculous. The movie I said focuses primarily on Republicans; but how it represents them, in terms of the big ones here, came off as mischievous and cartoony at some points. I wish there were more serious moments to break the childish mood because much like with the style, the genres of both comedy and drama seemed to be battling against each other.

With a budget of $60 million, it seems the movie spend most of it for the pointless gore segments. In the beginning, when it shows Dick as a lineman, one of his co-workers has a leg injury and his bone is protruding out. There is also Dick’s heart surgery, which depicts the doctors performing the operation. May I ask what is the point of showing these bloody and disturbing scenes? It makes no sense.

Now with that said, I would still recommend this movie. It was a decent flick that shows the rise, power, and dangers of a powerful man. The film does have great performances from great actors/actresses. But the tones and genres being tossed in here needed to be balanced to make the film feel more cohesive.  This is a film that definitely showcases or at least echoes certain events that are happening right now in the political world. It offers a reflection on how bad the U.S can be when its powers get too greedy.