As you may already be aware, Vice tells the life story of Dick Cheney, who was Vice President of the United States throughout the eight-year tenure of George W. Bush.
The film is written and directed by Adam McKay, who makes no bones about his own motivation. It springs from a Liberal Agenda, which deserves capitalising, because it informs Vice from the first minute to the 132nd and last.
But whether or not you buy into McKay’s thesis that Cheney is one of the most manipulative and sinister men on the planet, who for pure malignancy makes the White House’s present incumbent (of whom there is a fleeting glimpse) look like Forrest Gump, it has to be said that he presents it very entertainingly.
That said, he also deploys a similar set of idiosyncrasies to those he brought to his examination of the 2008 global financial crisis, The Big Short. So we get jump-cuts, slow-mo, speed-ups, addresses to camera, faux-closing credits, and whimsical narration from a character whose intimate link with Cheney is held back, to be revealed in a late ta-da! kind of flourish.
It’s almost as if McKay, and his editor Hank Corwin, cannot shrug off a cinematic form of attention deficit disorder. It would be wrong to call them one-trick ponies, though. They have dozens of tricks.
If you can embrace all that, and its Leftie politics, then Vice is a hoot. It is also quite brilliantly acted. Christian Bale is deservedly the clear favourite to win an Academy Award for his remarkable lead performance, rendering himself almost unrecognisable and nailing Cheney’s every mannerism and tic.