As you peruse the listings of what’s playing at your local theatre this holiday season, you’ll come across this film which is about Dick Cheney. When you do, you might say to yourself that the last thing you’d want to see is a movie about a person who’s mostly considered malevolent, selfish and unscrupulous. I’m here to suggest you rethink that decision. ‘Vice’ doesn’t glorify him nor let Cheney off the hook by any stretch of the imagination but rather explains some of the things he did and why he did them in an extremely entertaining and compelling fashion. It takes us through his early life of getting married, having kids and his eventual move into politics. His dream was to work in the White House and as his ambitions grew, so did his list of contacts. These contacts would later come into play and make big impacts on our country… not in a good way. Director Adam McKay cleverly inserts the dirty tricks that Cheney learns on his path to the Vice Presidency. Cheney uses them to gain extreme power, even more than President George Bush realize he has. One of the most unfortunate events in his life, for us that is, was that he met Donald ‘Rummy’ Rumsfeld (Carell). He was a terrible influence. It’s a shame these two ever met. ‘We the People,’ when Bush was in office, may not have paid attention to just how tainted he was. However, earlier in Rumsfeld’s career, Washington did, and he was removed. Knowing how devious he was, Cheney kept him in mind when he got into a position to bring him back. Cheney also learned from a young up and comer named Anthony Scalia all about the Unitary Executive Theory. When used, it gave the person in position the ability to override tedious checks and balances, especially during times of war. It was the kind of power wielded by kings and dictators. He knew that Rumsfeld would back him when he wanted to use it.
The film is an outstanding rundown of events throughout Cheney’s life that made him the man he became, often concentrating on the bland to get to know him. Christian Bale, who stars as Cheney, gives a remarkable performance selling his Cheney as eager and driven but not cruel… or at least not meaning to be. It’s suggested that his wife Lynne (Adams) is the more power hungry of the two. McKay implies that the young man who just wanted to drink and have fun found himself wanting to do nothing but please Lynne which is what ultimately brought us to Cheney making all of the calls in the White House.
You’ll be saddened, even sickened, when you see just how close we came to having everything we’re still fighting for today. This point when Reagan removes the solar panels Carter had installed on the White House to promote something called solar energy. We can’t have that, now can we? People in the oil business would lose money! Yep! Wealthy families and businesses, tired of paying taxes, make all the rules in their favor and continue to get in the way of progress. ‘Vice’ doesn’t shy away from telling you this. McKay blames the Republican-led governments for where we are today, but he does also humanize the subject of the film. Maybe decisions he made were because he believed he was doing the right thing, not because he was evil. That’s up to you to decide. Pay very close attention while watching as so much is examined. Depending on your own theories on certain matters you may feel vindicated… or maybe awakened. That said, I believe ‘Vice’ is an absolute must-see! I watched it and was so intrigued by it, I watched it again. McKay uses humorous imagery and staging to relax you but then he shifts the narrative to then terrify you as you witness exactly how ruthless people got into positions of power and remain there still today. See it for the acting. See it to alter your perception of or learn more about the Bush era. Just see this movie.