The comedy-drama stars Christian Bale as Dick Cheney and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush and follows Cheney through his political career all the way to his role as vice president.
â€œViceâ€ isnâ€™t exactly a biopic. Itâ€™s more like a darkly comic film, with gonzo elements inspired by the life and career of Dick Cheney.
So, no, writer/director Adam McKayÂ doesnâ€™t promise that every conversation in â€œViceâ€ (in theaters Christmas Day) happened verbatim. But he does claimÂ some of them did, that he read every book by and about the Cheneys he could, that he hired a journalist to corroborate his script with off-the-record reporting, and that, as a disclaimer at the start of â€œViceâ€ reads, â€œwe did our (expletive) best.â€
â€œThe amount of bread crumbs that are left arenâ€™t even crumbs,â€ says McKay of the former vice president, whose autobiography doesn’t discloseÂ much. â€œAnd Iâ€™m not even sure there was a trail the bread crumbs were left on.â€
More: Dick Cheney, is that you? How Christian Bale mentally, physically transformed for ‘Vice’
Review:Â Christian Bale astounds in a fascinating Dick Cheney quasi-biopic ‘Vice’
Related: Your guide to 2018’s must-see holiday movies
No matter, the film manages to cover six decades in the life of Cheney (played by an unrecognizableÂ Christian Bale)Â as it jumpsÂ throughout history, a false ending, iambic pentameterÂ and direct-to-camera speeches by Cheney and an unnamed narrator.
â€œWe really did our best to present these people as people. We really did our best to be accurate with the historic timeline,” McKay says. “And we really think itâ€™s an incredible story that,Â regardless of your political leanings,Â is about power and family and America.
â€œDoes that mean that some fringe (media outlets) wonâ€™t go after the movie? Of course not.â€
â€œViceâ€ draws a bold line that connects Cheney to the proliferation of conservative news, heightened brutality of interrogation techniques,Â creation of ISIS and the constitutional interpretationÂ that says the presidentâ€™s actions are always legal by definition (the unitary executive theory). Already, the film has been called out for the way it deals with the death of Lynne Cheneyâ€™s mom, but key elements of the story are based in fact, including these:Â
Widely considered the most powerful vice presidentÂ ever, Cheney was a political insider and Halliburton CEO who placed loyalists in government, set up Guantanamo Bay detention camp, authorized shooting down planes on 9/11 and made controversial use of intelligenceÂ toÂ justify an invasion into Iraq.Â These are all depicted onscreen.
Cheney got two DUIsÂ while a college student at Yale, beforeÂ dropping out and ultimately getting his B.A. at the University of Wyoming. Thereâ€™s no way to know if Cheneyâ€™s hardcore partying lived up to the depiction of it in “Vice,”Â where heâ€™s seen punching someone and is called a â€œdirtbag.â€Â
The real Cheney was indeed caught driving under the influence, and did get a harsh talking to by then-girlfriend, now-wifeÂ Lynne before turning things around. This kick-in-the-butt conversation is imagined in “Vice.”
In the film, Cheneyâ€™s heart attacks are so frequent, they seem played for laughs. He’sÂ prepared to die, but is saved by a heart transplant. In reality, Cheney has indeed survived five heart attacks and was convinced he was going to die in 2010. He got a heart transplant in 2012.
â€œViceâ€ depicts Cheney as a conservative who, upon learning that his daughter Mary is a lesbian, immediately supports her and gay marriage. From all appearances, that happened in real life, too.
The topic of gay marriage becomes aÂ family issue onscreen when Cheneyâ€™s other daughter, Liz, opposes it in her congressional run.Â That’s not embellished for dramatic effect.
The real Cheneys have indeed had public tensions around this issue during Liz’s campaign, withÂ Mary airing grievances with her sister on Facebook, and the Cheney parents publicly supporting Liz. Liz is now a member of the House of Representatives.
Cheneyâ€™s final monologue to camera, where he justifies his bullish behavior, consists of â€œall quotes taken from Cheney,â€ McKay promises. When movie Cheney responds on ABC News to the statement that â€œtwo-thirds of Americans say (the Iraq war) is not worth fighting,â€ he usesÂ real Cheneyâ€™s word: â€œSo?â€
And the movie usesÂ authentic news footage of Harry Whittington, the man Cheney accidentally shot while quail hunting. Whittington is seen apologizing to his shooter for what â€œ(Cheney) and his family had to go through.â€
A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.