‘Vice’: Adam McKay Delivers A Blisteringly Angry & Funny Condemnation Of Dick Cheney [Review]

The Playlist | 12/17/2018 | Rodrigo Perez
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Unchecked anger may be toxic, but anger and more specifically exasperated indignation weaponized by a comedian can be such a gleefully lacerating weapon. Such is the razor-sharp instrument of choice that writer/director Adam McKay employs in “Vice,” his incendiary, hilarious and blistering examination and indictment of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who served under President George W. Bush in the 2000s. In McKay’s follow-up to Academy-Award nominated “The Big Short,” the director uses a similar unconventional approach and tactics: big performances, wicked satire, 4th-wall-breaking techniques, cheeky, paroxysmal editing (ace work by Hank Corwin), and a deep irreverence for the tropes of biopics which he puts cheerfully grinds through a shredder.

McKay may be outraged, but he never loses his riotously funny sense of biting, acidic comedy and the two forces are deadly. The director’s remit of the last several years remains unchanged: how does one tell a complex, dense story that Americans normally find boring af and make it howlingly entertaining? McKay succeeds, with a kitchen-sink approach of maximalist tendencies. It’s certainly not a subtle film, but it’s far more successful and less spastic and incoherent then “The Big Short,” which took a similar approach of accessibly distilling dense information into a kinetic, would-be enjoyable package (“The Big Short” attempting to explain in layman’s terms how America was robbed blind during the housing crisis). “Vice” is similarly overstuffed and dense, but roguishly amusing and building towards a bigger declaration. For an entire career, McKay has been examining and exploring stupidity in all its form; he’s a PhD scholar in stupidity, yours, his, ours, everyone’s, but here the examination of idiocy and obliviousness has a darker purpose.

Vice - Ping-pongs - Life - Cheney - Christian

“Vice” ping-pongs through the life of Cheney (played by an inimitable Christian Bale), starting early on with his life as a ne’er-do-well and failed Yale...
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