As irreverent and off-the-wall as one might’ve anticipated, Vice explores the ascension of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) through the halls of power in Washington to eventually become the Vice President of the United States – with the character’s journey bringing him face-to-face with such notable figures as George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell), Gerald Ford (Bill Camp), and Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell). Filmmaker Adam McKay establishes his less-than-typical approach to the material right from the get-go, essentially, as Vice has been infused with a whole host of oddball elements and digressions that are occasionally distracting yet mostly entertaining – with, for example, a mid-movie credits sequence certainly perpetuating the picture’s appealing tongue-in-cheek vibe. The affable atmosphere is certainly heightened by Bale’s compelling turn as the film’s divisive central character, while the impressive periphery cast provides more-than-able support on the sidelines (with Carell’s impressively magnetic work as Rumsfeld standing as an obvious highlight). It’s disappointing to note, then, that Vice, saddled with a distinctly overlong running time, palpably begins to run out of steam as it passes the halfway mark, with the (perhaps predictable) emphasis on 9/11’s aftermath essentially dominating the film’s latter half (and covering extremely well-trod territory in the process). The didactic final stretch effectively confirms Vice‘s place as an ambitious yet not-always-successful effort from an appreciatively nontraditional filmmaker, with the movie, at the very least, certainly a far, far cry from the sort of stodgy, by-the-book biopic generally associated with material of this ilk.

**1/2 out of ****

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