Arts & Leisure

“Vice” has excess as its biggest vice

AMY ADAMS and Christian Bale star in “Vice.”

By Jim Tortolano

I like salt on my movie popcorn, but I don’t want a cupful of the stuff dumped on top.

That pretty much sums up my view of “Vice,” a film written and directed by Adam McKay that portrays former Vice President Dick Cheney as Satan’s slightly more evil older brother.

In this depiction of the man from Wyoming, Cheney (portrayed brilliantly and convincingly by a bulked-up Christian Bale) is blamed directly or indirectly for everything from climate change to forest fires, ISIS, the refugee crisis in Europe and Donald Trump.

Certainly there is a whiff of sulfur surrounding the real-life political ladder-climbing and business connections of Cheney, but the filmmaker can’t help but keep his foot on the gas by imagining dialogue which paints the veep as a man totally without morals or sincere beliefs, with the possible exception of his love for his family.

There is an outstanding cast here. Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, the woman behind the ambition, is impressive, as are Steve Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld and Sam Rockwell as President George W. Bush.  There is craft in the way the dots are connected and Dick’s rise from oil field redneck to sober string-puller feels convincing.

McKay also has some nifty tricks, too, such as a head-fake credit roll in the middle of the film, and an after-credits scene in which a grumpy Republican violently attacks a Democrat in the middle of a focus group meeting.

But overall, its virtues are diminished by the ideological piling-on. All the evil comes from the right, and Republicans are either clueless or without conscience. It’s just too much salt, except perhaps in a divided America in which The Other Side is the ultimate evil.

“Vice” is rated R for profanity and disturbing images.

 

 

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