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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
The former US vice-president, big oil nabob and waterboarding enthusiast Dick Cheney squats like a latex, inflated toad at the ear of power in this flashy political comedy from Adam McKay. This is due to a terrifically and in fact rather scarily plausible impersonation from Christian Bale. Bale has the sense to do more with less. His Cheney is often slumped, immobile, round-shouldered, animated only when reaching for a confidential document or sugary pastry. But he’s a quick mover, politically.
Viceis always entertaining and nihilist, especially when it comes to Cheney’s relationship with his beloved daughter Mary Cheney, an out gay woman and same-sex marriage campaigner.
Bale shows his man’s simple personal evolution. As a young boozer and Yale dropout from Wyoming, Dick gets an almighty, blazing-eyed telling-off from his formidable wife Lynne (played by Amy Adams), and he resolves to straighten up and fly right. Quitting booze entirely isn’t what happens, but his passions are transferred to food and power, and he graduates to a paunch-plus-comb over in his days in the Nixon White House, working for Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld (Steve Carell) is interestingly far less powerful and important than we thought him at the time.
Then Cheney becomes the great big plutocrat blob that America came to not particularly know or love. He was secretary for defence under the late George HW Bush. Then, during the exile years of the Clinton presidency, he was CEO of energy giant Halliburton, before the naive young Dubya called him back as vice-president – a job he effectively reconfigured as power behind the throne, and in front of it.
How does it all relate to the New Trump Order? Well, McKay puts in a post-credits sting on this topic, and it is possible that the cynicism and rapaciousness of the Cheney era paved the way to what America has now.