Three years after helming Oscar- and BAFTA-winning comedy drama The Big Short, writer/director Adam McKay’s follow-up,Vice, tells the story of Dick Cheney who, when he served under George W. Bush between 2001 and 2009, helped shape the world as we know it. How such an uncharismatic vice president became the most powerful man in the world without anyone raising so much as an eyebrow is ripe for exploration, and McKay, helped by a stellar cast that includes Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell, is certainly the right man for the job.
With The Big Short, McKay combined the genius for satirical comedy he had previously displayed in films like Anchorman, Talladega Nights and The Other Guys with poignant personal drama and astute social observation. The success of this approach resulted in five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, and a win for Best Adapted Screenplay, shared by McKay and co-writer Charles Randolph. And Vice looks set to follow this winning formula, not least because McKay has again penned the screenplay, and it boasts a similarly A-list cast.
Heading the impressive line-up is Oscar winner Christian Bale (The Fighter), who has undergone another dramatic physical transformation, this time shaving his head and piling on the weight to take the role of Cheney. Joining him is his American Hustle co-star, Amy Adams, herself a five-time Oscar nominee, who takes the role of Cheney’s wife, Lynne.
The Big Short star Steve Carell, who has described Vice as a “kindred spirit” to that film, is on board as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, while Sam Rockwell, who last year won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his turn in Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, takes the role of George W. Bush himself. They are joined by Lily Rabe and Alison Pill as Cheney’s daughters, Liz and Mary, respectively; Eddie Marsan as World Bank president, Paul Wolfowitz; and Tyler Perry as Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Fans of The Big Short’s slick visual style will be pleased to know that McKay has once again assembled a first-class filmmaking team, with cinematographer Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and The Big Short’s Oscar-nominated editor, Hank Corwin, also back on board.
Given that McKay is such a shrewd storyteller, it’s unsurprising that Vice’s timing is as meticulous as his craft. Coming during a period of huge political upheaval, it promises both retrospective insight and intelligent commentary on how we got where we are today.
“The reactions I’ve seen from audiences to Vice are endlessly fascinating,” the director told The Daily Beast. “There’s a need to redefine that era, and a need to have a certain perspective on it that’s safe and comfortable. The whole movie is about power and the effects of power, more so than anything I’ve done at this point. It’s clearly the story of our times.” With all these elements in place, there can be no doubt that Vice is shaping up to be another unmissable slice of cinema from a masterful filmmaker, and a rousing opening bell for the 2018 awards season.