In this loose true story, we follow former Vice President Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) as he rises to prominence. We also have his wife Lynne (Amy Adams), who accompanies him on his journey. In government, we encounter George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) and Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell). The story starts before he’s involved with politics at all, all the way up to post-9/11 war activities, his role in torture etiquette, and his role in the Patriot Act.
The movie is directed by Adam McKay, who began with comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers, but made a new name for himself with The Big Short a few years ago. This movie has a very similar style as The Big Short, including fourth-wall breaking explanations.
There will be some definite award consideration for a few folks, the most likely being Christian Bale in this absolute transformation into Dick Cheney. It’s not only prosthetics, but his mannerisms and speech patterns are absolutely mesmerizing. Incredible work on display here. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Amy Adams get a Supporting Actress nod, though I don’t think it’s a sure thing. If we do get a second nomination, it might go to Sam Rockwell who also transformed into George W. Bush.
If you’re a fan of politics and “true story” biopics, you’ll likely have a great time here, though it’s definitely filling in some major gaps, including here some moments that no one would know how it really played out, so we’re seeing an embellished and somewhat fictional idea of what happened. Entertaining yes, but not to be completely trusted as fact.
The style of the film is also interesting, very similar to The Big Short. It doesn’t hit the right spot as consistently as that film, but it’s still a fun and engaging movie.
What didn’t work?
As I mentioned above… The style of the film somewhat works but at other times, absolutely tanks the film. There’s a sequence mimicking a Shakespeare play that halted everything. It’s meant to be a jab or parody but it ends up hurting the movie in several places. These moments are jarring, at the least.
Because of this style, the pacing is very inconsistent. This movie feels incredibly long and there are entire sequences that could have been cut and left behind. It tried to maybe include all the big moments for Cheney’s career, but were all those moments important to this film… I don’t think so.
As a film, this doesn’t always work. It’s got jarring and unnecessary scenes, it could’ve benefited from a few more cuts. The performances here however are all pretty incredible, highlighted by potentially Oscar-worthy performances by Christian Bale, Sam Rockwell, and Amy Adams. I don’t think you need to see this in theaters but it’d make a perfect calm Sunday afternoon rental for sure.