Vice: A Must Watch but Not in Theatres (Score: 7/10)

Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s VICE, an Annapurna Pictures release.
Credit : Greig Fraser / Annapurna Pictures 2018
Annapurna Pictures, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Christian Bale was phenomenal. You don’t need to read it here. Better film critics will tell you how magnificent-a-job he did.

This movie is memorable for sure — not only because of its biopic and unearthing nature, but also because of its courageous storytelling style. It somehow fuses elements of voiceover, time-travel, and theatre + breaks a lot of conventions (e.g. for 30-45 minutes it runs like a regular movie and then suddenly gives you the same scene twice in different reenactments) AND YET… manages to not feel too left field or “indie” (i.e. niche) or departed from the feature-film-feel we look for in a great flick.

All that said — I found several scenes to be unnecessary and unnecessarily long. My roommate Ahmed (an actor) fell asleep for a stretch, but still claims to have loved the film. I believe him — it’s that kind of film. I also thought the ending was problematic. The directors tried to rebalance over 2 hours of far-left-leaning bias in a closing scene where you’re almost coerced into empathizing with (and feeling compassionate toward) a Cheney who is continuously portrayed as a murderous monster. To be clear, I don’t take issue with the humanizing of a human — I just take issue with giving him the last word, and a damn powerful monologue at that. It was literally as if the defense lawyer built 2 hours of a case only to hand her closing statements over to the prosector to speak on her behalf. Like, huh? Bad impact on the viewer, for sure.

All in all, I say “MUST WATCH” but certainly not “must watch now…” — save it for a Netflix night.

-Ali

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