Vice (2018) – The Untold True Story

While I love “The Big Short”, Adam McKay is one of the most noticeable directors. He always catches an ordinary theme and modifies it into a mainstream comical entertainment. They could be about economics, markets, journalism or else. In addition, McKay is known for “Anchorman” series, “Step Brothers”, and “The Other Guys”. In this film, “Vice” invites us into a complex political thought about Dick Cheney, one of the masterminds behind Iraq invade and its horror. Very McKay this film is like a Shakespeare-style satire comedy. He also, as well as “The Big Short”, uses the boundary between the audience, fictional characters, and reality.

In this “Vice”, McKay highlighted the interesting but monotonous personality of Dick Cheney’s life. He was one of the vice presidents most feared because of the many political dramas emerged. Cheney was a drop-out student often drunk in Wyoming, 1963. Played by Christian Bale, he later became an assistant to Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell). Become the White House chief of staff, congressman, CEO of an oil company, and vice president in taking decisions for George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell).

Very simple for a film like this. In fact, Christian Bale transformed into an increasingly fat and bald figure. The people in the makeup part did an extraordinary job. Likewise, Bale as a layer of latex becomes a spawn goggles. Strange metaphor, quite a lot of talk. “The Big Short” invited you into the world of the economy to the matters associated with it. On the other hand, “Vice” seemed difficult in attracting the mainstream audience. Moreover, this is a film about politics which is different from political films in general.

Rockwell, in playing the role of a president especially George W. Bush, is truly entertaining so there is no element of seriousness. McKay uses quick cut approaches, real footage and absurdity, breaking its narrative, and dark visual humor. Rockwell himself even acts as a “president” who no longer holds power and authority. The most prominent is what’s actually in his mind. We don’t know if he keeps something in himself. McKay put some footage from the Cambodian country destroyed by a US bomb. He also captured dust cities in Afghanistan. That’s what I always call a comedy sketch, break its narrative. Very Adam McKay.

Cheney is a complex person but we never know who he really was. When the 9/11 tragedy happened, everyone panicked, scared, and cried. However, Cheney is the most unique person among all because we never know what steps he wants to take next. “Vice” has many comical characters but is real yet real but comical. On the other hand, the characters in this film are real people. They are various but a murderer, dictator, sociopath, and etc. A lot of reviews I read the majority saw this film as a liberal perspective or something like that. Propaganda or not, McKay is smart when it comes to jokes between fictional and real characters. I was even surprised when the end-credit appeared in the middle of the film.

“Vice” is narrated through Jesse Plemons as a mysterious character. We don’t really know who he was or even who this person really was. However, this connects the story at the end of the film. This film is like a historical commentary or an essay film. McKay made various references to a drama. Next, he shows an accurate-inaccurate event into a debate from his presentation. It’s like I never thought that this was fiction or not. As if, McKay tried to be different with enough ado but pull an opinion, argument, and debate. Just like what the movie says, we never know who the enemy was. Cheney himself thinks that this is a minor problem to the point that he thinks that heart disease is nothing. What does Cheney believe? What do we believe?

Cheney is a horror character even more than a horror film today. He supports all laws so that the world becomes a crueler and dirty place. He always thought that he wasn’t a vice president but a president. Added, we were never told. It’s like he took the decision without any other reason than for his family or his country. McKay prefers exploration of various types of techniques rather than real, but it’s very difficult to explain this biopic. It exceeds that of anyone and people than hate what McKay has directed.

Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney doesn’t have too many screens. She is not too Lady Macbeth ala McKay or America-like. Seem full of bitterness, ambition, driven by hatred. On the other hand, Lynne is the driving character for Cheney to become a better husband in the future. Steve Carell is the most cartoonist actor in this film. Regardless of his Michael Scott idiot styles, he is the one who stole the screen the most. Rockwell, like everyone else, acts like an idiot but it’s not too either. Cheney is like an unpredictable character but it feels rather difficult to notice other than his lacking motivation. However, his makeup and transformation changed his appearance to become a different sociopath’s political figure.

“Vice”, with its McKay-style, is an absurd biopic but shows a satire limitation yet non-fiction. Adam McKay loves to look different from other directors. But, this film doesn’t work with me too much. “The Big Short” is, personally, his best works of all. Just one point, McKay’s style of documentation is pretty good. At the end of the most yet absurd ending, this film loses all its narrative structure. Maybe, I didn’t think which side I was on. Politics is not my cake. This film is rather monotonous with its character but a bit comical and funny in certain parts.

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Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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