★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
I barely remember all but a few things about the presidency of George W. Bush as it happened. However, I knew enough to know that he was not good at his job. And I did not like Dick Cheney either, as he seemed smarter than Bush, for better & for worse: although Cheney was actually able to make grammatical sense, he was more likely to use his power to the fullest extent, no matter what the cost.
Vice is a scathingly funny & deeply horrifying look into the most powerful Vice President in American history. Set from 1963-2012, & narrated by Kurt (played by Jesse Plemons), a quasi-relative of Cheney, the film follows Dick Cheney (played by Christian Bale), a Wyoming alcoholic recently expelled from Yale. After receiving a second DUI, he is told by his wife Lynne (played by Amy Adams) to immediately clean up his act. He agrees to clean himself up, & they eventually have 2 daughters: Liz (played by Lily Rabe) & Mary (played by Alison Pill), who eventually comes out as a lesbian.
In 1969, Cheney ends up working as a White House intern, eventually becoming an assistant to Counselor to the President Donald Rumsfeld (played by Steve Carell). However, both Rumsfeld & Cheney are cast aside by Richard Nixon, but get back into the White House when Gerald Ford (played by Bill Camp) becomes President, as Rumsfeld becomes Secretary of Defense & Cheney becomes Chief of Staff. However, their time there is short-lived, as Ford loses the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter.
Next, Cheney decides to run for the U.S. House seat in Wyoming; however, after giving a very underwhelming campaign speech, he suffers a heart attack. While Cheney recovers, Lynne campaigns for him, bringing a lot of firepower to the campaigning, eventually leading to Cheney's election. He stays in the house until 1989, when he is made Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. Although he does consider running for President in 1996, he eventually declines due to the scrutiny that Mary would likely face, as Republicans are still going on an anti-gay marriage platform. He then becomes CEO of Halliburton.
In 2000, he is asked by George W. Bush (played by Sam Rockwell) to be his running mate in the 2000 election. Although Cheney declines at first, he eventually agrees on the condition that he oversee the more mundane responsibilities, cementing himself as the most powerful Vice President in American history.
In his first few years as VP, Cheney continues his work with again-Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, & creates bonds with his counsel David Addington (played by Don McManus) & Chief of Staff to the Vice President Scooter Libby (played by Justin Kirk), but also makes adversaries in Secretary of State Colin Powell (played by Tyler Perry) & National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice (played by LisaGay Hamilton). But as the country goes into Iraq & Afghanistan, Cheney's power only continues to grow.
The cast is spectacular. Christian Bale gives the best performance of his career as Dick Cheney, completely disappearing into the role & into Cheney's Machiavellian mindset. Amy Adams also gives the best performance of her career, phenomenally transforming herself into Lynne Cheney, & putting on a Lady Macbethian sensibility. Steve Carell also gives a terrific performance as Donald Rumsfeld, looking almost exactly like him. Sam Rockwell is magnificent as George W. Bush, as he is probably the perfect person to ever portray him. And the rest of the cast, especially Perry & Pill, is perfectly cast down to the smallest of roles.
Adam McKay's direction is stunning. McKay is firing on all cylinders, as he satirizes & attacks Cheney & the Bush administration at every moment with his rapid-fire style.
Adam McKay's screenplay is brilliant. The plot always keeps us at the edge of our seat, the characterization is incredibly well-thought out, the narrative is awesomely bizarre, & the dialogue is just perfect, always being either bitingly funny or intensely terrifying.
Greig Fraser's cinematography is amazing. Fraser's camerawork is fantastic, as it has a crisp, film-like feel to it.
Hank Corwin's editing is impeccable. Corwin uses the rapid-fire editing style that worked perfectly in The Big Short & it works like a charm, perfectly fitting the chaotic time period in which the film is set.
The makeup & hairstyling is phenomenal. It is astoundingly transformative, especially for Bale, but it is also very transformative for Adams & Carell. This is some of the best makeup work in recent memory.
And Nicholas Britell's score is excellent. Led by a piano & violins, the score perfectly complements both the comedic & dramatic parts of the film.
This is, by far, the best film of 2018. It's a brutally funny, intensely frightening, well-acted, well-made, well-written masterwork of a film.
Vice was seen by me at the MJR Partridge Creek Digital Cinema 14 in Clinton Township, MI on Monday, December 24, 2018. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 132 minutes, & it is rated R for language & some violent images.