Film

Variety - - Contents - BY OWEN GLEIBER­MAN

Vice

Direc­tor: Adam Mckay Star­ring: Chris­tian Bale, Sam Rock­well, Amy Adams

From Richard Nixon to Ron­ald Rea­gan to Don­ald Trump, the lead­ers of right-wing Repub­li­can pol­i­tics have tended to be fire-breathers (or, in the case of Rea­gan, a saber rat­tler who could make snake oil taste like honey). But Dick Cheney broke that mold. Speak­ing in soft, terse, cor­po­rate tones, with the pre­ci­sion squint of some­one run­ning a mar­ket­ing sem­i­nar, Cheney was the ul­ti­mate stealth power player — the mild-man­nered func­tionary of burn-it-all- down con­ser­vatism. No mat­ter how ex­treme his views (more tor­ture! more fos­sil fu­els! more dis­missal of the main­stream me­dia! more war!), he al­ways made it sound rea­son­able, as if he were dis­cussing not at­tack- dog pol­i­tics but facts. When he con­fronted an in­ter­viewer with that wry, avun­cu­lar voice and slightly beady glare and spit a phrase like “en­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques” out the side of his mouth, Cheney, in his ev­ery­thing-is-process stac­cato way, seemed to be telling it like it was. He was say­ing: Power is a fact. That’s why the truth is what­ever I say it is.

“Vice,” Adam Mckay’s biopic of Ge­orge W. Bush’s vice pres­i­dent (a man who con­ven­tional wis­dom, dur­ing the 43rd pres­i­dent’s bum­bling reign, held to be the de facto con­trol freak be­hind the throne), is a brashly en­ter­tain­ing movie that’s nei­ther as rich nor as deep as you want it to be. Yet Chris­tian Bale is noth­ing short of amaz­ing in the ti­tle role. He nails the Dick Cheney per­sona — dry, pointed, de­cep­tively dull, in­vis­i­bly pas­sive-ag-

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