I wasn’t sure about watching Vice because I don’t like Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and surely I can’t be alone in finding Christian Bale a bit smug? The opening credits and graphics got me caught though; whizzbangs with laughs.
Settling into the film I wondered how accurate it is and also whether I really cared how accurate it is. My notes back and forth on this conundrum as the film went on, just as they back and forth on whether I was enjoying it. My thoughts when writing this review were that my notes aren’t very helpful and I don’t have anyone to blame but myself for that.
Vice is a very good looking film, except for that corpulent cunt Cheney, shot with a sexiness somewhat surprising from the director of Step Brothers. To be fair to Adam McKay he did also direct the respected (but boring) The Big Short and he also helmed Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy which is absolutely hilarious*, but not as athletically aesthetic as Vice.
As Cheney manoeuvres his way up the political ladder, throwing anyone he needs to under the bus, Vice began to suffer from what I call Raging Bull Syndrome. This term is what I use to describe any film where the characters are so unlikeable it overrides how good the film is for me. While Vice isn’t as good as Raging Bull, it is at least moderately amusing while detailing quite what a slippery bastard you need to be in politics.
For the record, Raging Bull is a great film I refuse to watch anymore; LaMotta was a cock and no amount of De Niro and Pesci also being cocks but in black and white so you know it's art will abate that.
George W. Bush is presented as such a complete numpty it’s a wonder he ever learned to tie his laces let alone become President. Sam Rockwell, playing him, does provides the most amusing moments in the film which kept me engaged with Vice. To my shame, half way through I even began to warm to Cheney but it is no spoiler to say that my good will didn’t last long.
On the issue of length, while only just over two hours long the film’s voiceover does smack a bit of a panicked attempt to cut the run time down with some not so subtle exposition. But, it looks good, has an interesting topic and is well acted. The prosthetics are incredibly impressive, almost covering Bale’s shit eating grin, and the humour and power play were enough to keep me largely happy with Vice.
An interesting portrait of an awful man, Vice had me veering between enjoying and not enjoying it. Despite that, overall it is worth a watch if it appeals to you. Don’t expect all out comedy but considering I didn't expect much of anything a creditable 6/10 that I expect many others might find harsh. Definitely worth a go.
*If you like Ron Burgundy you have to check out his podcast which is very funny- and it is Will Ferrell playing him too.