‘Vice’ | Movie Review

I had heard so much about Christian Bale’s performance in “Vice” that I was bound and determined to see it, even though I was pretty sure that the film would be a love fest for Democrats. I was right.

“Vice” opens in theaters on Christmas Day. I’d encourage you to go for the performances, especially the mesmerizing, phenomenal Christian Bale. Despite his reputation, Bale is one of the most amazing actors of our time, becoming completely immersed in this role. From a young Dick Cheney, which we first meet in the 1960s, to an older Dick Cheney, plagued with health problems yet driven to seize political power, Bale lives it all.

Amy Adams stars also as the no-nonsense Lynne Cheney, and somehow gets her whiney, doe-eyed acting technique to work for this character too. There’s nothing incredibly remarkable about her performance, but I’m thinking she needs more to do in the film. Still, it’s hard to do anything in the shadow of Bale.

The supporting cast is pretty good, including Steve Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld who chews the scenery when he’s on the screen. We also get to see Alfred Molina in a funny cameo as a waiter, offering constitutional advice to Cheney and company.  Sam Rockwell is perhaps the most fun to watch in the supporting cast: he plays George W. Bush with delightful, buffoonish glee.

This film can’t make up its mind what it wants to be: is it biting, satirical comedy?  Could it be sort of an artsy, think-outside-the-box quirky thing? Is it a drama? Is it making a political statement? Is it factual or does it stretch reality? There are so many surprises throughout the movie; audiences will have a hard time deciding.  Maybe they won’t want to.

The film does achieve something that a lot of people will find satisfying: it continues the popular past time of Republican bashing. I’m surprised Bill and Hillary Clinton weren’t given cameos. From the first frame to the last scene, Republicans are seen as ridiculous, impetuous and uncouth. I hate to tell “them,” but the other “side” comes across as condescending, pompous and dissonant. Frankly, I’m tired of the constant need to show everyone how awful the conservatives are; how sinful while pushing their moral agenda. Enough already.

Heralded as “the year’s best”? I think not. I’m not going to tell you that I completely disagree with what the movie says about that administration. However, this movie is such a cacophony of nihilistic dialogue; I don’t see how anyone could follow it closely enough and make enough sense out of it to call it the best. Just when you think you’ll be lulled to sleep by the mundane and Dick Cheney’s “Darth Vaderish” breathing, the movie revs up and takes us for a winding ride, much like Cheney himself in an early drunk driving scene. Hold on tight.

I might say it’s one of the year’s best, but only due to the great performances. It’s probably worth your ticket price and heck, you’ll be able to say you saw the part that won Christian Bale an Oscar.

My grade: C+

“Vice” is rated “R” for violence and language and runs 1 hour and 52 minutes. It opens on Christmas Day.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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