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Vice is a weak attempt at Dick Cheney's life. Cheney, played excellently by Christian Bale, was a movie that, like Mr. McKay's The Big Short, tries its hand at comedy in a serious movie and fails miserably. Even by Mr. McKay's liberal standards, the movie incorporates fire, flooding, opioids and rioting into the movie without reason. Is McKay saying that it is Dick Chaney's fault? The audience was left confused by this scene.
The movie begins with Dick Cheney getting pulled over drunk while driving his car. It seems Mr. Cheney loved beer and booze as a teenager. His drinking spilled over at Yale University, where he was expelled. Cheney was content to work on electric polls his whole life and drink in his spare time. His longtime girlfriend, Lynne (Amy Adams), would have none of it. The future Mrs. Cheney grew up with a hard drinking, abusive father and she would not marry a man who was like her father. She gave Cheney an ultimatum, "quit your drinking or lose me."
We see Dick Cheney in the next scene in Washington, D.C. McKay does not tell us how or why, we just see Steve Carell playing Donald Rumsfeld at an opening assembly for young want-to-be politicians. Apparently, according to Mr. McKay, Cheney had no idea what his political views were. All he knew was that he wanted to work for Rumsfeld. Painted as a yes man, Cheney climbs the latter quickly. He is mentored by Rumsfeld, who is a brash, rude, crude man. As Rumsfeld gets shipped off to Brussels, Cheney moves into the White House. Nixon is in trouble with Watergate and the era comes to an end. McKay tries humor in running the credits to show as if it should have been Cheney's ending.
The problem with Vice that it is directionless. Sam Rockwell who plays George W. Bush is cast as a baffon. Rockwell's movements while they are passable, are not great. The Texas accent comes and goes. Rockwell's movements are not like Bushes. We never really get the feeling that this is George W. and Rockwell is not even close to Bales' impression of Cheney. The older Rumsfeld was more believable than the younger Rumsfeld. Carell actually looked more like the Secretary of Defense in later years. It seems to the movie goer that McKay wanted to make a movie about Cheney, then went ahead and slopped a lousy work of art together.
Vice with a cast of talented actors and an interesting story falls flat. With the exception of Bale, no actor is very good in this movie. McKay has the actors all bottled up and flat. Bale is able to do Cheney well because Cheney was a reserved, quiet man, so the writing worked well for Bale. McKay has his two daughters detached and unemotional. What should have been more the focus of Liz running for office after her father was retired, was just a fly-bye mention.
Poorly written and not very well directed, Vice is a movie that is not interesting. Nor is it a movie to get an audience member excited. Dick Cheney, whether you like him or not, was an interesting person. His story should have been told better. His career at Halliburton was a great one, McKay barely mentions it in the movie. It seems that McKay only wanted to make Bush, Cheney and the rest of the administration look like a bunch of idiots. McKay did this without any rhyme or story to it.