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Film Review: Vice (2019)

Vice (2019) is a biographical comedy-drama that focuses on former Vice President Dick Cheney and the events of his life that lead to him being Vice President. Directed by Adam McKay of The Big Short, this film is edited and done in the same way, filled with satire and humour. Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, this film starts right from Cheney’s education and shows how he got so much power, and how he got everything his way.

Vice (2019) - source: Annapurna Pictures
Vice (2019) – source: Annapurna Pictures
The main positive from this film is the performances throughout by all of the cast. There is no wonder that Bale and Adams are up for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, as they both give stellar performances here. You cannot see Bale at all in his performance, only the persona of Dick Cheney. Adams is one of the most underrated actresses in Hollywood today, not having won a single Oscar as of yet. She deserves it here for the heartbreaking performance she gives as Lynne Cheney, Dick’s wife.

Out of the supporting actors, I actually found Carrell to give the best performance of the lot. He was the one that had the loud performance, and he took over the screen whenever he appeared. It leaves me wondering why Sam Rockwell got the nomination over him, especially since Rockwell almost just seems to slip into a Bush impersonation. His role here is no where near as good as his Oscar winning performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but considering his screen time it doesn’t need to be.

Jesse Plemens (Breaking Bad, Game Night) is also in this film, which is a nice surprise. The way his character is written gives the audience a break from the hard politics, and I liked his character. I didn’t understand his role until near the end though, and it just seemed like an odd choice to have him thrown in with no explanation. It was one of the things that took me right out of the movie.

Vice (2019) - source: Annapurna Pictures
Vice (2019) – source: Annapurna Pictures

This is definitely not an immersive film, which is potentially why I personally didn’t enjoy it. This film is so self aware that this is a movie, that it plays up on movie tropes and cliches. In terms of the screenplay, I really didn’t like the Shakespeare sequence of the film. It seemed forced and uncomfortable to watch, and as good as their performances are, Adams and Bale just can’t pull the Iambic pentameter speech off. As a film fan that wants to be immersed into the movie, having a mid credit sequence felt so forced and awkward to watch. It felt like McKay was saying “screw you” to the film experience, and I hate it when directors or writers think they are better than the typical film format.

I also hated the editing in this film. I can understand why it is up for Best Editing at the Oscars, as it probably makes the film even better and distinct for some people. Unfortunately for me, it was so choppy. The film keeps going forwards and backwards and doesn’t fully know where it is sitting. This format also made it look like a PowerPoint presentation, by using at some points completely random images to illustrate a point being said.

The tone of this film is also so jarring between the drama and the comedy. One minute, you will be laughing because a character does or says something funny, and then the next minute you’ll see bombs going off in Iraq. The tone was completely uncomfortable and after a certain point, I just stopped laughing or enjoying myself altogether. If the editing wasn’t so choppy or forced, the humour could have worked to present the facts and story of this moment in history.

Vice (2019) - source: Annapurna Pictures
Vice (2019) – source: Annapurna Pictures

Just like Bohemian Rhapsody, this is a film that has divided film fans and critics. Unfortunately though, this is definitely the weakest film in Best Picture this year. This is a film you will either love of hate due to the self awareness of the screenplay and editing, and sadly it just did not land for me. Judge it for yourself though, as I know people who did indeed really enjoy this biopic.


Have you seen Vice yet? Do you agree with me that the editing let it down, or did it enhance the performances for you? Let me know in the comments below.

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