Dick Cheney was a congressman from Wyoming for eight years, but is best remembered for his two terms as vice-president under President George W. Bush. It was in the early years of that tenure (September 11, 2001) that we were attacked by the Mideast terrorists and faced the terrible dire days thereafter.
This film, among others, shows that the president, Bush, was not up to the task of leading the country in reprisal, survival or repair. Cheney took on the job, and virtually ran things for the next seven years of the Bush presidency.
Vice gives us a view of Cheney’s background leading up to his most notable office. We see him as a young man, a student at Yale University, constantly drinking himself into a drunken stupor that gets him expelled from Old Eli. He works as a lineman for a communications company, still boozing beyond the limit.
His fiancé, Lynne (Amy Adams), finally turns on him and in no uncertain terms tells him she loves him, but they are through if he doesn’t straighten himself out. He reforms and becomes the substantial character we remember. Christian Bale, with makeup, acting and behaving like Cheney made me feel as though it really was Cheney in the film.
The president at this time is Richard Nixon. Cheney gets a job as assistant to the chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell). Rumsfeld treats Cheney as a novice in government affairs; Cheney is attentive and anxious to learn. Cheney goes through the following 20 years mostly in White House positions until 1993 when Bill Clinton was inaugurated.
After seven years as CEO of Halliburton Corp., a huge oil well service company, we see Cheney as a very wealthy man, happy in his family life. In 2000, he is contacted by George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell), a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Bush wants Cheney to be his running mate in the upcoming election. Cheney was reluctant to accept, but saw the potential to be the man who actually runs the country under W’s name.
Vice then follows Cheney’s term as vice-president, through the years of the 9/11 horror, the Iraq war intended to eliminate Iraq’s nuclear capability and other Mideastern ventures. Some of these actions are questionable as to their veracity. Cheney seemed to be interested mostly in the access to Mideastern oil. His role in international politics is dominant and we don’t see much of the president in meetings and presentations. Dick Cheney is in charge.
Cheney suffered from heart attacks during those years and we see him hospitalized three times. The last time involves a complete cardiac replacement, which is viewed as having little chance of success, but it works and he survived.
Vice is an important film, based on historical events that still rock the world order. I found it difficult to watch at times because of the skipping around in time and for some of the unrelated events shown.
As for the acting, Bale is excellent in the role of Cheney. Amy Adams’ performance clearly informs us that Lynne Cheney was no subservient housewife. She is shown to be smart, very politically capable, a no-nonsense partner for Dick.
Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld and Sam Rockwell as George W. are also to be applauded for their representations of prominent characters. We see several government officials, and hear their familiar names in the film, but those four are the central figures.
Several years ago, I saw a television interview with Dick Cheney. He was asked about his years as vice-president. In response, he smiled and said,” I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Vice is at Harkins Sedona 6 Theater.