Title: Vice (2018)
Director: Adam McKay (Step Brothers)
Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Alison Pill, Tyler Perry, Eddie Marsan
Plot: Tells the true story of American political figure and one-time Vice President Dick Cheney (Bale), whose role in US politics and war time operations is highly underrated.
“We gonna do this thing, or what?”
Review by Eddie on 14/01/2019
There was genuine surprise in 2015 when filmmaker Adam McKay delivered multi-Oscar nominated dramedy The Big Short, with people shocked that the man responsible for Talladega Nights and Step Brothers was more than just a slacker comedy kingpin.
Examining the very un-funny true story of America’s housing market collapse and the greed that led to the occurrence, The Big Short was a sharply written, solidly acted and energetically put together piece of film-making, that led to McKay duly being praised for his efforts.
For any fans of The Big Short, McKay’s newest event picture Vice will feel instantly familiar, as the director and writer takes the same approach that worked for The Big Short as he examines the life and times of famous American political figure and one time Vice President Dick Cheney.
Cut very much from the same cloth, Vice sadly doesn’t feel as naturalistic or free flowing as it’s predecessor, as it looks to instill a rather depressing tale with the same smarts and energy as McKay’s early venture, but instead finds itself feeling forced and more manufactured in the process.
Vice is still far from a bad film in the typical sense of the word and it’s at times confronting and eye-opening in it’s bleakly realized view on America’s political landscape and its examination of dangerous power trips but there’s a lot of Vice that feels like it lands with a thud, while the black humor employed by McKay and his team only works half of the time.
Led by a star-studded cast that’s anchored by yet another physically committed Christian Bale turn (one that will get an Oscar nomination but likely to fall short against Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born turn) that’s ably supported by typically strong performances by Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell, Vice is an assured Hollywood production but it’s one that runs before it walks, as it rushes along its way without ever creating a heart and soul to build upon.
McKay himself has claimed that Vice is to be seen as a pure comedy but upon viewing it’s hard to take this statement on face value, as the film deals with a number of heavy and complicated issue’s, a number of which are explained in entertaining and easy to understand fashion, and when all mixed in together, it creates a sometimes rocky affair that drags just as much as it flies.
Most glaringly, despite Bale’s and the other cast members solid acting turns, by the time Vice’s two hours plus are up you don’t actually feel like you know Cheney that much better from when you started, with McKay frequently consumed with other agenda items, it seems to be that the man behind the headlines was an illusive one to pin down, meaning those seeking a genuinely well-rounded account of the man will be left sorely disappointed.
Final Say –
Finding entertainment in a far from entertaining subject or subject matters, Vice is eminently watchable but undeniably underwhelming all things considered. After the roaring success of The Big Short, Vice sees McKay regress slightly but surely, with the talented filmmaker needing to make sure his next mix of political commentary and comedy finds it’s heart before it heads on it’s merry way
3 mid-film credits out of 5
Yeah, the film is not as good as The Big Short. For me, Vice is far less disciplined. I still love Adam McKay’s unrealistic style and I laughed so hard when the fake credits tolled. I just wish someone had been around to tell Adam McKay “No,” on occasion.
That’s a really great way of putting it. Sums up my thoughts exactly.
It felt like he was given a little to much freedom.
This was fun but yeh a little unfocussed and even self-indulgent.
Great review. I haven’t seen this yet but really looking forward to it. Even if it’s a glorious cinematic mis-step as some seem to suggest, there’s much to praise with McKay for even attempting political satire in an era when it could be easy just to churn out brainless comedies.
You are right about McKay its great to see him try and entertain as well as educate at the same time. Its not easy in today’s current climate!
Just saw this this evening and you guys are spot on! It’s a film very much of two halves with the second tighter and more akin to The Big Short than its confused first half!
It does feel a little confused.
I think for me the biggest takeaway was that by the end I didn’t really like I knew Cheney that much better than when I started, even if Bale was great in the role.
Bale was great as ever but pretty much agree with your views, not a compelling watch on a not so compelling individual either, not particularly funny either.
It felt a little try hard to me, nothing really felt naturally earned. I am surprised its been given so many Oscar nominations.
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