Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are noticeably absent from this amusing and self-aware biopic of US political mastermind, Vice President Dick Cheney.
Former Batman star, Christian Bale, is barely recognisable as the balding, fat and aged politician, and charts Cheney’s barely noticed rise to prominence with a restrained and masterful glower.
We see how Cheney went from being kicked out of Yale university to being the real power in the White House during the tenure of President George W. Bush, and is painted as a ruthless, unrepentant and amoral patriot who’s obsessed with power.
A breathtakingly fierce Amy Adams appears as Lynne, his wife, whose ferocious drive and thwarted ambition is held responsible for providing the thrust for Cheney’s ascent.
Written and directed by Adam McKay, this is a companion piece to his 2015 hit, The Big Short, which was a comic and condemnatory examination of those responsible for the financial crash, for which he won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay.
McKay adopts a similar approach here mixing dramatic recreations and news footage with a gift for explaining complex legal matters into easy to digest scenes, so even dummies such as me can understand them.
But there is nothing new or revelatory here, and regurgitating known events is the not the same as creating a drama, plus the enjoyably jokey tone undermines an interesting attempt to pitch Cheney’s life as a Shakespearean tragedy.
This is an unapologetically liberal interpretation of recent history which won’t change anyone’s mind, and though it should make us blisteringly angry the best response it can muster in us us a resigned shrug at what we already know.
And having explained at length how Cheney creates the conditions which offered the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency, McKay then hectors us for our stupidity in allowing it to happen.
However there’s no doubting McKay’s ability to get the best out of a great cast, with Bale deservedly winning the Golden Globe for best actor and being nominated for the BAFTA equivalent.
With Adams and Rockwell alongside him in the Supporting acting categories, the trio are the best excuse for indulging in this mostly enjoyable and undemanding Vice.
Vice is released in UK cinemas on January 25.