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Dick Cheney was a terrible person. If you didn’t already believe that—and it’s hard to imagine why you’d be interested in this movie if you didn’t—you now know everything Adam McKay’s movie has to say. The story tracks Cheney (Christian Bale) from his hard-drinking college days, through his marriage to Lynne (Amy Adams) and his precocious rise to power from the Nixon administration through Congress and up to his crafting of an imperial vice-presidency. Along the way, McKay employs similar follow-the-bouncing-ball storytelling tricks to those he used to explain the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis in The Big Short, but here they mostly feel unnecessary and self-satisfied. Bale’s performance offers little besides impressive mimicry of Cheney’s half-muttered monotone, and there’s not much more nuance in any of the other roles; I almost feel bad for Sam Rockwell’s half-hearted stab at George W. Bush. What remains is something determined to congratulate you for not rolling your eyes when Don Rumsfeld (Steve Carell) responds to Cheney’s “What do we believe?” with uproarious laughter, and for agreeing that everything wrong with the 21st century can be traced to one heartless guy.
Director: Adam McKay
Producer: Megan Ellison, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Kevin Messick, Chelsea Barnard, Jillian Longnecker, Robyn Wholey and Jeff Waxman
Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Alison Pill, Eddie Marsan, Justin Kirk, LisaGay Hamilton, Jesse Plemons, Bill Camp, Don McManus, Lily Rabe, Shea Whigham, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Tyler Perry, Josh Latzer, Jeff Bosley, Camille Harman, Jillian Armenante, Matthew Jacobs, Robert Hughes, Scott Christopher, Amir Malaklou, Paul Perri and Edward Fletcher