This week I saw Adam McKay’s film VICE.
Most known for his comedy classics Step Brothers, Anchorman & Talladega Nights he’s recently made a shift to bring his style to more serious topics.
His film The Big Short earned him an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
This showed he could succeed out a Will Ferrell lead project and he’s continue to expand with his most recent film looking at Bush’s right hand man, Dick Cheney.
Though he’s a big fan of Oliver Stone’s work this film is unlike Stone’s W which gives a sympathetic look at George W. Bush.
Instead there’s an approach to link Cheney’s decision as essentially the de-factor president to where we are know as a country.
VICE takes the time to setup Cheney’s life as best as they could because admittedly he’s a notoriously private person.
It covers what spurned his transformative change in 1963 from a drunk who was kicked out of y’all, how he became “the most powerful Vice President in America’s history” and concludes with this current administration.
All the performances in this film stood out to me.
When I saw Tyler Perry as Colin Powell on the stand-in outside the theater I thought of Gone Girl & how David Fincher got a great performance out of Perry.
I’ve held the belief that Perry would benefit from giving the reins to someone more experienced for his own projects shown by the reception of Perry’s Acrimony.
This was no different, with McKay’s direction Perry definitely adjusted to the world & props to the makeup team for having him look like Colin Powell especially from the side.
Steve Carrell was great as Donald Rumsfeld.
He was a great guide for both Cheney and the audience into the world of politics, back room deals and allegiances.
When he’s on screen it’s a breath of fresh air from the stogy congressmen in the background.
He has ambition and links with Cheney to eventually run the whole White House.
The scene where he’s breaking down how Nixon is having a meeting outside of the Oval Office and is deciding to bomb Cambodia without Congress’ approval shows the potential & how much power the president could actually yield.
Amy Adams was phenomenal as Lynne Cheney. She deserves a nomination both at the Globes & Oscars.
It was a transformative performance as seen with her fashion choices to again the makeup department’s brilliant work.
There’s two moments in particular that show her skill as an actress:
After a drunken arrest in Wyoming Cheney is given an ultimatum get his act together or she’ll leave.
She emphasizes he’s not her only suitor and that both student & professor a like would jump at the chance to be with her.
She has a fire in her eyes and as we see more of her story with her mom & dad’s relationship that passion is justified. It’s also a chance to remember the limitations that women had to face regardless of how smart you were.
And then when Cheney’s health fails him and is struggling to keep their lead she steps in and is shown to be not only a capable women but a brilliant orator relating to the experiences of these middle American towns eventually leading to a win for a seat in the House of Representatives.
And of course there’s Christian Bale as Dick Cheney.
Similar to his character in American History he’s gained the appropriate weight.
The makeup team with the sunspots and showing his age of the years were truly brilliant.
His voice & the fact that he talks out of the side of his mouth for the entire movie was impressive.
He’s such a great actor that it didn’t seem like an actor playing a part but instead it was the man himself.
There’s great humor in this even in the tough realities as with the thread of Cheney’s deteriorating health and constant heart attacks.
When a clueless staffer tries to give aid Cheney responds “I’m having a heart attack you idiot”.
Or just the nonchalance that he delivers the news that he needs to go to the hospital when everyone is gather to watch the results of the 2000 election.
I couldn’t help but think of the Broadway show Hamilton’s and it’s call of “History has it’s eyes on you”.
There’s powerful moments that show truly what were the results from the decisions that were made in “the room where it happens”.
That scene I mentioned earlier about Nixon’s decision to bomb Cambodia is illustrated with brown people carrying on with life & then all of a sudden bombs come crashing down upon them.
There’s a great scene in the restaurant where the waiter tells them what is on the menu and it’s shown to be a list of policies and he explains how something like Guantanamo Bay could happen.
Then it cuts to what went on in this settings from being confined in a box to being water boarded.
Seeing these actions played on a cinematic scene brings weight to these decisions and forces the audience to put a face to what these vague political phrases actually mean by showing the atrocities that took place under this administration.
What Cheney did with the Bush administration was revolutionary.
The fact that his bond with Rumsfeld lead him to being the youngest Secretary of State shows how loyalty pays off.
His work ethic and not being satisfied with moving from an intern to having his own office was honestly inspiring.
Bush being framed as focusing on other things namely H.W. Bush’s approval showed how Cheney’s could accomplish his goal of seeing how much power the President, and by extension him, could yield.
He had offices all around from the House of Representatives to the Pentagon which meant he had eyes & ears to everything.
He would get access to everything the President saw & sometimes even before the President had eyes on it.
So much so that when Rumsfeld was fired he asks Cheney “Do you think we’ll be prosecuted?”
Now even though I’m not a history buff and a lot of this information was new to me this movie wasn’t without it’s flaws.
I agree with critics that the film should’ve talked about Cheney’s dealings with Halliburton more especially because he was at one time the CEO of this corporation and there’s a direct link between them and the Bush administration.
But all in all I truly enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to people from both sides of the isle and wouldn’t be surprised if it battles A Star Is Born for the biggest prize of the night, Best Picture.