••• The International Writers Magazine - Our 20th Year: Film Review
Directed by Adam McKay
Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carroll, Sam Rockwell …
Sam Hawksmoor review
I had been very impressed by The Big Short which provided an excellent explanation for the 2008 financial crisis with wit and style. Vice attempts to do the same with the rise of Dick Cheney from hopeless drunk Yale drop out to White House Chief of staff and finally Vice-President. On the way in the years when the Republicans were out of power – he became the CEO of Halliburton and a multi-millionaire. Adam McKay certainly knows how to grab your attention but I keep reading that this is a ‘comedy’ or ‘satire’ and I don’t read it that way at all. Cheney accidentally grew in power and was schooled by Donald Rumsfeld who certainly understood power and cruelty. The crux of the film is the unitary executive theory - a theory of American constitutional law holding that the President possesses the power to control the entire executive branch. (Something Trump is exploring to get his Wall come Feb 15th).
Cheney and Rumsfeld used this to circumvent Congress and the Senate to set up torture camps in the Middle East and elsewhere and of course Guantamano Bay in Cuba. They literally invented a war and pushed Bush into attacking Iraq – the one country that wasn’t involved in 9/11 and of course Saudi Arabia never gets a mention since that's where the oil is.
The film is a great documentary about evil and even Satan has a loving family that believes he can do no wrong. But funny? No. Will it win an Oscar. Yes.
Christian Bale delivers a wonderful performance as Cheney, Sam Rockwell’s G W Bush nails it to the wall, and Amy Adams as Cheney’s forceful wife cements the whole movie together, but you do not come out of the cinema feeling uplifted or that things like this can’t happen again. They will and are and there really don’t seem to be any checks and balances.