I remember clearly where I was November 2000. My then fiance, along with numerous friends, drank while watching the results of the presidential election. The scare of the world ending on 12/31/1999 was 11 months past. Since the world did not end, we thought everything was possible. Our shock at Gore conceding to Bush/Cheney moved in slow motion. How could this have happened? Couldn’t we get a recount of Florida due to the “hanging chad” business? No.
Walking into Vice was the first time in a very long time the incidents being portrayed were fairly clear in my living memory. The current love affair with the ’90s continues to increase with the abundance of television shows and movies honoring the era. See The Assisnation of Gianni Versace, to some extent Pose, and the plethora of Kurt Cobain docs as examples. Plus Christian Bale, a future ex-husband, and Amy Adams were starring so this seemed like a win-win situation.
Reader, Vice is nothing more than Bale in a fat suite saying “I’m Batman” throughout the movie. (My partner disagrees but what does he know?)
Vice is your standard biopic, however, with a fairly clever twist. It starts out innocently enough of Dick getting arrested for drunk driving, getting kicked out of Yale, and his marriage to Lynne. There is one particular scene where Cheney is working as a telephone linesman and a crew member falls and breaks his leg. Cheney, along with the rest of the crew, stand around cracking jokes. Cheney turns and walks away, so does most of everyone else, as the foreman tells someone to drop the poor bastard off in town with $50. This sets the motion that Cheney is an unfeeling and heartless asshole who gives no fucks about anyone other than himself and his family that permeates to this day.
Cheney’s rise to power is impressive despite the drunk driving and Lynne telling him outright if he doesn’t clean up his act, she’s leaving him. He begins as a White House intern for Rumsfield and the story ends when Cheney suffers his who knows what number heart attack to be honored with a new heart. The shooting of Harry Whittington is also addressed.
Vice is told in a clever way and I will not ruin the twist but with many critics claim it’s “the best movie of the year,” I just don’t see it. I felt like the movie was ok, it covers the basic ground of Cheney’s life. It underscores his and Lynne’s ruthlessness on their accession up the ladders of Washington elite. But I’m just not feeling it. Even Bale’s accent sounded less like a plainsman from Montanna and more like he was lazy and imitating his Batman days. There seemed to be lacking something, something I can’t put my finger on, and it’s driving me crazy. Cheney’s is the Devil but at least the Devil causes excitement. Vice is a replacement for when the Devil is on vacation but most often it is a snoozefest.