Vice 2

By Joanna Langfield

Adam McKay is angry. And his fiery look back at Dick Cheney makes sure you’re angry, too.

Christian Bale, prosthetics and all, is remarkable as the loser who evolved into super-manipulator Vice President of the United States. Even though Cheney hasn’t been a regular in the public eye for a while, the minute Bale sends that signature facial tick, we feel transported back, smack in the middle of the George W. Bush era, a time many now look back upon as the good old days. McKay wants us to remember what really happened.

With less of the hyperactivity of his very entertaining The Big Short, McKay takes us again into the room where it happened, the Congressional offices, White House meetings, chats at the Bush ranch. We see Cheney get kicked out of Yale and wind up as an intern for Donald Rumsfeld. Rummy, we learn, was a key mentor for the ambitious young man and together, they maneuvered their way into power throughout several administrations. Steve Carell’s canny performance balances Rumsfeld’s cynicism with the charm he presented to the cameras. But if there’s a standout in the first rate supporting cast, it’s Sam Rockwell who, in a few key scenes, nails W.

What to me is the most interesting part of this whole story is wife Lynne Cheney’s role in it. Amy Adams at her steeliest, makes Lynne no mere strong woman behind a great man. Lynne is tough, maybe smarter and even more hungry than her husband. And she is a woman you don’t want to mess with.

Is Vice a must see? The answer to that, I think, depends on your tolerance for political exposes these days. This is a film that reminds us there have been some bad players in the White House before. And some of them have cleared a path for others. Maybe most importantly, it insists that we pay attention, insist on the checks and balances that insure our democracy.