Vices of the Vice President


"The quiet man waits for others to speak, listens what they have to say, then when they are done, he strikes."

Joey Gentile, Co-Editor-in-Chief

On Christmas Day 2018, audiences filled with cheer had the opportunity to see the newly released Vice, but their holly jolly Christmas spirit surely drifted away. The dramedy biopic was released from director Adam McKay and has since won a Golden Globe, been nominated for seven Academy Awards, and in fact won for Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the Oscars.  

Vice follows former Vice President Dick Cheney’s rise to power. The film includes what encouraged Cheney (Christian Bale) to seek notoriety and how his initial desire grew to a hunger. The second half of the film follows his relationship with the then potential president George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell), the process of Cheney becoming vice president, and the political warfare that is rarely discussed or shown in the historic White House.  

The developed plot of Vice does not deserve a gold medal. Rather, it is the acting and character depth that should be rewarded. Christian Bale underwent an immense transformation for the role of Dick Cheney, gaining 60 pounds and shaving his head. Makeup and wigs were utilized and resulted in a spitting image of the former vice president. Christian Bale then further prepared for the role by learning how to speak like and have the same mannerisms as the man whom he was portraying.

The film opens with the quote, “The quiet man waits for others to speak, listens what they have to say, then when they are done, he strikes.” Throughout the movie, Bale aced the calm and stalking yet intimidating expression. When he was in a scene, I could not take my eyes off of him. He had an overbearing presence and when he spoke, since it was rare, I had a fear of sorts that he was going to “strike” and say something that would incriminate those around him to advance his personal gain. The horrifyingly accurate performance of former Vice President Dick Cheney deservingly won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy and Bale even included a “thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration on how to play this role.”

Sam Rockwell is receiving high praise for his performance as former President George W. Bush. I feel that while his acting was good, the commendation actually should go Steve Carrell for his role as former U.S. Congressman Donald Rumsfeld. Having rarely seen Carrell take on a serious role, I was amazed at how the known comedian gave such heart in his work. I thoroughly believe that the nomination by the Academy for Best Supporting Actor should have gone to him instead of Rockwell. While giving a convincing portrayal of the former President, I feel that it did not compare to that of Carell’s because Rockwell was barely in the movie, appearing in only three scenes that I can remember.

Adam McKay’s directing is definitely something that should not be looked over either. Also known primarily for pure-blood comedies, and while this was wrongly considered one by the Hollywood Foreign Press, McKay’s directing in Vice differed greatly from his previous projects such as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Step Brothers. He used more of a layered style of storytelling. The movie was narrated by a man named Kurt (Jesse Plemons) who we see throughout different moments in his life — sitting and playing with his child, going for a jog, and serving in the military to name a few. Towards the end, Kurt is hit by a car, and it is revealed that after he died, his heart was used to save Dick Cheney. Other aspects that were different was the sudden flashing of various objects and events that symbolized the repercussions of what was happening in the plot. The directing of Vice was different from any style that I have seen before, and with that, it was refreshing to see something new.

Now, I know I just said that Adam McKay took this film more seriously than his other projects, but this movie was funny. However, what made the comedy so brilliant was its subtlety and how tasteful it was. My favorite scene that arguably drew the most laughs from the audience was the Shakespearean dialogue. Go ahead, reread my last sentence. Yes, in a movie about one of the most scheming politicians, there is a scene where words are exchanged that might as well have been written by the Bard himself. The scene is between Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne (Amy Adams), and we hear Kurt’s voice say “Sadly there is no real way to know exactly what was going on with the Cheneys at this history changing moment. We can’t just snap into a Shakespearean soliloquy that dramatizes every feeling and emotion. That’s just not the way the world works.” The screen then cuts to black and we hear “You know what?” The next thing we see is the Cheneys doing just that: Lynne is plotting how Dick can obtain the most power possible from the position of vice president in a way similar to Lady Macbeth.

Do yourself a favor and see Vice. Not only is it one of the best movies I saw in 2018, but it has also become one of my personal favorites solely for its acting, directing, and comedy.

Vice will be released on DVD on April 2.