Vice (2018)

Reviewed
Fri. 1/4/19
Vice (2018)
2.3333333333333
Acting
4
4/5
Morality
1.5
1.5/5
Music
3
3/5
Story
2
2/5
Visuals
2.5
2.5/5
Kernel Factor
1
1/5
The most hate-filled movie I've seen.
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
Viewing Environment:
Theater
Viewing Crew:
Friend(s)
Times Watched:
1
Genre:
Drama
Payment Method:
Regular Ticket
Review:

I'm all about biopics. If you check out the movies I review I tend to review (and like) movies that are based on historical figures and true-stories. When I first saw the "Vice" trailer and the fact that Adam McKay was the writer/director, I was intrigued. The film is all about Dick Cheney - how he essentially was the political mastermind that we never knew him to be. But from the very first frame in the film it was off to a very bad start. I kid you not, the movie begins with something to the effect of..."this movie is based mostly on facts that we found, but sometimes the facts were kept confidential from our sources so that we had to guess. But through it all we did our f*$*%&g best." Immediately I was like, "who does that?" Who writes on a multi-million dollar national distributed movie that they did their F-ing best. We (the audience) would hope you did your very best. The fact that they needed to say it only made the mistakes and overtness even more horrendously striking. Of course, I didn't expect the movie to be a conservative rallying piece. But it told history in a hateful, degrading, and absolutely self-serving (to the filmmakers) way. 

Acting
As much as I'm appalled that I watched this movie, the acting is mostly phenomenal. The opportunity to play real people who have unique idiosyncrasies under a good director brought out some great acting. For me I'd only knock the acting because of the script, which had the audacity to contain parody scenes that were most certainly not funny in real life. It's disappointing to think that the actors even bought into that sort of a structure. Sam Rockwell and Christian Bale really are standout characters, but Sam Rockwell gave us a reason to like him as George Bush versus Christian couldn't even relate to Cheney enough to give us a reason to like him - he just knew how to impersonate him. 
Morality
The entire film is questioning the "morality" of Dick Cheney. And sometimes it succeeds. Sometimes you're like, "dang, that was a bad call". But MOST of the time, there is incredible irony. Irony in the fact that the filmmakers are questioning Cheney's morality while themselves breaking every true-story morality rule. Cheney is degraded and taken down every chance they get with no defense, nor is he made to be a mastermind bad guy. He is only defended at the very end (by his own monologue) that is just a cheeky way for the filmmakers to feel okay about their hate-filled movie. My biggest complaint with the morality is that the filmmakers seem to earnestly believe Dick Cheney is at fault for literally every problem in America (recent past and present). We see footage of the war in Iraq, California wildfires, narcotic overdoses, gangs/gunfire in the streets, Bud Light commercials, and so many random archived footage scenes that make it seem like we're supposed to believe Cheney did this. I can't even understand that sort of thinking. 
Music
The music is fine. Nothing special to note.
Story
The story is told from the perspective of a narrator who later plays a role in the film. How long it takes to understand the role of the narrator is actually annoying. By the time I found out his role, it made me hate the movie even more. Then I heard that McKay's previous movie "The Big Short" actually utilized a similar strategy in having a narrator. It sounds like it mostly worked in that case, but it did NOT work in this film, and the fact that he copied his last movie's style feels non-creative. The story itself truly is interesting - if you remove the hate and the narrator there is actually something to say. But they didn't do that. Lastly, the film could've and should've started at about the midpoint of the film (which ironically is at the exact point that the filmmakers decided to put an end credits, don't ask, it's embarrassing). Telling the entire backstory of Cheney's life was such a waste to me. We could've jumped right into the action. 
Visuals
The film is mostly shot very well and the characters and settings all look real. Excellent job there, but it's why there is so much left to want about the film. 
Kernel Factor
I can't imagine having this much talent (in front of camera and behind) and use it to make a hate piece toward one person. Insane. If you ever make the poor decision to watch this movie, I would love to know if you can tell what is so special about Dick Cheney. Throughout the entire movie I don't feel like I ever learn why Dick Cheney is the mastermind the film claims he was - ironically, they actually have the narrator explicitly say "And what is it that made Cheney so special?" And then he goes on to answer it, but it's meaningless. Cheney is the film's anti-hero, but the film never gives him enough credit to make him believable as an anti-hero. What did Dick Cheney ever do to Adam McKay? Holy smokes, why did I waste my life writing this review?