In VICE, we see male bonding in the White House. Also, we see that when mediocrity mixed with white privilege and toxic masculinity is given extreme power, that makes for a political shit-show that will affect all our lives. The story starts in Casper, Wyoming in 1963. (The same year and in the same territory where two young ranch hands named Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist will meet, work together and fall in love on BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.) The opening scene is rowdy. Men getting loud with dice, money and liquor in a saloon. Then we follow a car driving too fast down a highway with a man pulled over for being drunk behind the wheel. That man is young Dick Cheney. He's the same man who will be drunk with power in the White House and giving orders on September 11th after one of most horrible, deadly events in American history.
Amy Adams delivers another excellent performance. We saw her with Christian Bale in THE FIGHTER and AMERICAN HUSTLE. Here, she brings her character actress skills to the role of Lynne Cheney. Early in the marriage when he was behaving like an over-aged frat boy, Lynne laid down the law for him to get it together. She was as focused on power and money as a white shark on a stray seal. She elevates Dick from catfish to fellow shark. Lynne cares more about her husband getting power than she does about race/gender equality in American. And they have a lesbian daughter. In a surprising bit of casting that paid off, Tyler Perry plays Colin Powell and he's quite good. The always dependable Sam Rockwell stars as George W. Bush, the man who chose the monotoned bureaucrat in the White House boys club as his running mate.
For as good as the acting is, the lead character is never someone you can care about. Dick Cheney comes across as a man at war with the world around him. He even seems at war with his own body. He's like Tin Man in THE WIZARD OF OZ, hollow inside but when he gets a heart, it rejects him. He seems to be heartless -- even after he accidentally shoots a buddy in the face with birdshot pellets during a hunting trip. The buddy recovered. Your jaw drops at the changes made under the Cheney administration that laid some groundwork for where we are now. In a way, VICE is a cautionary tale that came too late.