Dick Cheney biopic Is equal parts entertaining and informative

Walking into “Vice,” I really didn’t know that much about Dick Cheney. I knew he used to be vice president. I knew he shot a dude in the face once. I knew he earned himself a generally unsavory place in history. But that was about it.

There was an empty Dick Cheney info file in my brain, and admirably, “Vice” did a serviceable job of remedying that.

Every detail of a man’s life obviously cannot be condensed into 132 minutes, but writer/director Adam McKay does a good job hitting the main points. There is a brisk momentum to the entire film.

Everything in the first half is clearly taking us to Cheney’s eventual place in George W. Bush’s administration and his subsequent manipulation of it. As a viewer, it made the more ordinary parts of Cheney’s early career feel important, because I knew this was a precursor to some truly world-changing events. This importance kept me invested.

The film’s greatest asset as a biopic is its masterful use of humor. McKay often addresses the audience directly to explain the murky and convoluted networking of U.S. politics in ways that are equally hilarious and digestible.

For example, in one scene Cheney has different ways he can manipulate political power channels explained to him by a waiter as if they’re items on a restaurant menu. It’s brilliant.

I know very little about politics, but I left this film feeling like I had, at the very least, a basic understanding of how Cheney was able to do the things he did.

The performances are the film’s most obvious selling point. Christian Bale’s portrayal of Cheney is uncanny. He not only transformed himself physically, but he mimics Cheney down to the smallest tick.

Amy Adams is just as good as Lynne Cheney, serving almost as a Lady Macbeth type. She brings a cunningness to the role that really makes it seem like her and Dick are perfect for each other—but not always in a good way.

Sam Rockwell’s George W. Bush unfortunately doesn’t have much to do in the film, though I couldn’t help but giggle watching him mumble idiotically in every scene.

“Vice” is a solid film. While not as hard-hitting and weighty as it may have been intended, it is entertaining.

It examines Cheney in a fairly objective light. It never paints him as a straight-up villain, but rather as a human being making choices he thought were right. It lets the audience make up their own mind about one of the most notorious figures in modern U.S. politics, and makes them laugh pretty frequently while doing it.

Vice is now playing in all major movie theaters.

mason.dredge@gmail.com

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