Review: Vice

Review: Vice

23rd January 2019 Off By Ewan Gleadow

It’s Academy Award season once more, and that of course means a last-ditch attempt to see as many of the contenders as possible. Vice produced a very surprising amount of nominations, with eight nominations out of the gate. Does it deserve so many nominations? Probably not. Will it win at least four of its nominations? It absolutely will.  

We can’t help but notice the amount of effort Christian Bale puts into his performances. Whether he’s shedding weight to play the insomniac Trevor Reznik (The Machinist) or bulking out to play the superhero icon Batman. He certainly has range to say the least. But now comes possibly his most challenging performance of all, bringing to life one of the most controversial figures in American political history. Vice tells the story of Dick Cheney, on what limited information the movie can get its hands on.  

By all means, Bale’s performance is brilliant as expected. The whole movie pivots on one performance alone, and we’re lucky enough that it works so well. That’s not to suggest the rest of the cast don’t give off some strong performances though. One of the few biopics from the last year to feature an all star cast, the film is packed to the brim with some excellent performances. Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths, Moon) has received his second Academy Award nomination for his supporting role as George W. Bush, which is great until you realise that the real star of the supporting role show is none other than Steve Carell (Welcome to Marwen, Foxcatcher) as Donald Rumsfeld. Rockwell and Carell work effortlessly in producing some amazing pieces of dialogue and nail-biting tension throughout. 

However, other cast members seem underused, to the point where it’s easy to forget that they’re in the movie. Amy Adams receives a nomination for her supporting role as Cheney’s wife, Lynne. We only remember her in one or two scenes, but it’s certainly not a performance worth keeping an eye on given how overshadowed she becomes due to Bale’s prominence on the screen. 

McKay gives off a strong impression in the directing department at least. His work here is his best yet, both for direction and writing also. Consistently fourth wall breaking, along with the occasional flashback or flashforward, crammed to the brim with some enjoyable satire along the way. It’s a difficult blend to get your head around, but once you do, you’re along for the ride with ease.  

Vice has at least settled a bet. It turns out Adam McKay does have what it takes to make a half decent movie. Instead of focusing on the gritty and mundane details as he did in The Big Short, here he focuses on the more interesting and intricate parts of a very controversial politician. If it weren’t for Bale, this project simply would’ve crumbled.  

Does Vice have the potential to be a memorable political biopic drama? Quite possibly. We’re struggling to remember parts of the movie already, and it only finished a few short hours ago. Some tight direction and an expectedly strong leading performance from Christian Bale are enough to cover up the various plot holes and continuity errors that Vice has to offer.