05th Jun2019

‘Vice’ DVD Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Alison Pill, Eddie Marsan, Justin Kirk, LisaGay Hamilton, Jesse Plemons, Bill Camp, Don McManus, Lily Rabe, Shea Whigham, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Tyler Perry | Written and Directed by Adam McKay


Director Adam McKay has found himself a new-found evolution at the forefront of dramatic narratives; beginning with his jump into a serious oriented cinema with financial crisis drama The Big Short, released in 2015. After numerous successful stints in comedy directing terrific financially successful comedies with Step Brothers, Anchorman and The Other Guys etc., the decision to push in new territory was a surprise, raising eyebrows, left, right and centre, although a deeply interesting development. However, such an abrupt and surprising turnaround paved itself due diligence receiving enormous critical acclaim with five total academy award nominations even winning the award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay for Charles Randolph and Adam McKay. Attention soon turned to what McKay had up his sleeve next and the answer was yet another contrasting surprise in Vice, formerly known as Backseat. A semi-biographical account of the legacy and life of the controversial vice president and political figure Dick Cheney played by the tremendous Christian Bale.

Vice, at its fingertips, has every single imaginable property to be an outstanding and possible masterpiece piece of both cinematic narrative and production. However it is slightly disappointing to report that Adam McKay’s latest is a deeply underwhelming and understated drama with little fire or energy; best described as a limp biopic. Thankfully, Vice entails strengths that will lift it from total despair – namely, the truly outstanding roles of Dick Cheney and his life Lynne played by Bale and Amy Adams, respectively. Both wholeheartedly transcend the craft of creation with a gargantuan prolific screen presence that seamlessly blends into a documentarian approach with such a realistic and quite frightening evolution in terms of performance art. The hair and make-up brought to the screen from the whole department and the combination of dedication from the film’s actors is quite frankly incredible. In particular, Bale who is unequivocally breath-taking and adroit in a role that deserves full honours come awards season.

Yet sadly McKay’s film can’t quite level the equanimous truth between style and substance, nor inject any gravitas or intrigue to a picture that oozes gross misconduct and therefore a story to be told from the narrative and characters. It’s the lacklustre plot here that falls short of exercising the right to either entertain or educate. The themes threaded throughout, while undoubtedly constant, have such little lasting impact creating a feckless effect of ownership and acceptance. This is partly due to a structure that would work wonders on a multitude of dramatic projects and utilised efficiently in a number of McKay’s previous cinematic exploits. However, within the parameters of Dick Cheney and Vice does very little here to inform the audience on a truly haunting and relevant subject matter reminiscent of the age we live in today, nor exploring the fallout of contextual actions with clinical invidious response. The story, therefore, comes off in an inconsequential and condescending voice with the subject matter treated in a deeply misguided and light-hearted fashion.

Vice is available on DVD and Blu-ray from today, courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.


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