Vice Review

Vices. 

We all have them, and we all love them.

That goes double for former President of the United States, George Bush Jr – but his Vice might just be the most dangerous of them all.

It’s 1950’s america, and good ol’ boy Dick Cheney is a keg drinking, bar room brawl starting, dead end job working college drop out.

But he has an ambitious wife, Lynne, who is frankly a whole lot smarter and prettier than him.

The original Homer and Marge Simpson, if you will.

This being the 50’s, Lynne’s career opportunities are somewhat limited, and so she does what any smart woman would – forces Dick to live the life she should have had for herself.

And Dick is savvy enough to understand that a husband leads, but a wife commands.

Which is almost certainly what inspired that Leonard Cohen lyric.

Soon enough, Dick is strapped into a Washington shaped internship where a chap by the name of Donald Rumsfeld catches his eye.

Politically ambiguous until then, Dick decides to throw his lot in with Rumsfeld and his fellow republicans.

And we watch the man who would be president make a meteoric rise to the top.

Alas, Dick doesn’t have the right credentials or heart to become the most powerful man in the western world.

But a chance meeting with a fellow keg drinking college drop out with the right family name opens up a back door route to the keys of the White House.

Written and directed by Adam McKay, the man behind the brilliant The Big Short, Vice sees him take aim at even loftier targets – namely former Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney, and his corrupt, power grabbing republican party.

As with any good storyteller, McKay starts at the beginning and Cheney’s early days as a blue collar employee of Halliburton.

Which they will both profit from in his latter, war-mongering days.

Unfortunately, starting at the beginning means there’s a lot of years – and a lot of deceit – to incorporate until we get to the present day and the most interesting part of Cheney’s story, his Vice Presidency with George Bush Jr.

Unlike The Big Short, Vice doesn’t quite manage to make its complex subject matter – the corruption and circumnavigation of american government by Cheney – engaging enough to a universal audience.

There are just too many lies to cover to keep things entertaining, as we watch Cheney repeatedly make a cuckold of simple Bush Jr so that he can become the most powerful Vice President in american history.

Especially for us lovely non-american folk, who aren’t nearly as invested in the lies of their past

But Vice’s biggest problem is, well, our current political insanity that has already made this film feel pretty dated.

Donald Trump and our very own tory party’s mentally unhinged approach to Brexit have made anything before 2016 feel like a lifetime ago.

So america’s illegal invasion of Iraq and their fake ‘war on terror’ isn’t even today’s fish and chip paper.

Which isn’t to say Vice isn’t worth seeing – Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell are all as brilliant as you’d expect, while Christian Bale’s award-winning transformation as Dick Cheney is worth the admission fee alone.

But in our age of absolute narcissism that we find ourselves in, the vices of Dick Cheney feel like pretty small fry to me.

Jonathan Campbell

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