Provokr Pick: Vice
Christian Bale Transforms Into Dick Cheney
Christian Bale is one of the most talented actors of his generation. The way he throws himself into every role is admirable. From blockbusters like The Dark Knight and Terminator: Salvation to awards season contenders like Knight of Cups and The Fighter, Bale treats every role with equal respect and gravitas, which is why he’s one of the biggest stars around.
Oh, and he’s also really hot. He’s a total beefcake. A genuine hunk. Still, despite being pretty as a basket full of Backstreet Boys, he is unafraid to physically transform himself if the role calls for it. For 2004’s The Machinist, he dropped down to a dangerous 120 pounds, right before bulking up to star in Batman Begins. While he’s gained weight for films, getting chubby and having awful hair for American Hustle and The Big Short, nothing can prepare you for Vice.
In the Adam McKay film (Bale’s second collaboration with the director, following The Big Short), Bale, one of the handsomest men on the planet, transmogrifies his body into that of Dick Cheney, one of the least handsome men who ever lived. Aside from throwing America into costly and violent wars for fun and personal profit, aside from shooting his friend in the face with a gun loaded with birdshot, aside from essentially puppeteering the presidency of George W. Bush, aside from literally having no pulse (look it up, it’s true!) Dick Cheney was, and is, a decidedly unattractive man, on both the inside and out… But especially out. His face looks like a butt. He has resting ass-face.
Bale gained forty pounds for the role, and he is practically unrecognizable, the spitting image of Cheney, who, in turn, has always been the spitting image of sidewalk spit. Vice is a tough watch, since it effectively gives The Wolf of Wall Street treatment to Dick Cheney, one of the most irrepressibly vile men on the face of the planet, complete with fourth-wall breaking monologues, slick pacing, and deliberately dissonant rock and roll sensibilities. Writer/director Adam McKay is swiftly becoming a master of scathing satire; he wants you to hate this man, this man who sold out innocent lives and the environmental well-being of planet Earth for money and power, and who paved the way for the current president to do the exact same thing (only Trump did it with a great deal more stupidity and help from Russia). Equally importantly, McKay and his team have also made a wholly enjoyable movie which turns its grim subject matter into genuine entertainment and takes every opportunity to poke fun at the incredulity of its own existence; a biopic of this fucking guy? Who would have thought it?
The supporting cast is stellar, full of famous faces playing recognizable figures; Sam Rockwell is George Bush, Steve Carrell plays Donald Rumsfeld, Amy Adams is Cheney’s wife, Lynne, and Tyler Perry shows off his underappreciated acting chops as Colin Powell. They’re an eclectic band of misfits who drove the country, and indeed the world, to the brink of ruin, and whose message of corporate greed, selfish egotism, and fear of the ‘other’ continues to resonate with what the Republican party has slowly transformed into over the last few decades.
Vice is in theaters now.