Vice: Parody or a Biopic?
It’s rare that you see a biopic that actually wishes death upon its subject. However despite that, its actual depiction of Cheney is as muddled and tone deaf as The House That Jack Built’s characterisation of its serial killer antihero Jack. It will show him struggling with living up to the expectations of his wife and defending her against her abusive father and then turn to the camera and tell you what a monster he is. The film follows him from his blue collar post college days up until his heart transplant after leaving office, the films thesis being that he staged a stealth coup that gave him personal control over the United States government. How true any of this is is left in doubt thanks to the dubious style choices that makes the film feel more like the writing of a conspiracy theorist than a biographer.
The chaotic and directionless editing combined with an almost total lack of structure, theme or tone, as well as some absolutely atrocious voiceover dubbing, gives the impression that no two cast members are ever quite in the same movie. This isn’t helped by the shallow performances, how Rockwell received an academy award nomination for this nothing performance is totally beyond me. Neither does McKay deserve plaudits for writing or directing a film this messy, it is a masterpiece of Tell-Don’t-Show film-making with voice-overs, title-cards and no less than a dozen paragraphs of text to end on, he makes exposition into an aesthetic.
The postmodern, parodic uses of fourth wall breaks had some mileage in his earlier film The Big Short since it was an efficient and entertaining way to convey info dumps about a complicated subject, but since the insight gleaned here goes no further than the average episode of South Park...actually scratch that...Family Guy, it comes across as shallow, untrustworthy, manipulative and downright vain.
The film does cling to some level of interest since it does have the uncomplicated virtue of interesting subject matter told with as much sparkle as possible, but it’s unconvincing stuff that fails to sell its central ideas or even paint a coherent picture of anything and functions mostly as an opportunity to show off some convincing makeup and win some awards.
Find a decent documentary instead.