Adam McKay established himself as a bonafide comedy auteur with sublimely silly fare like Anchorman, before making the leap to smart social satire with his scathing banking crisis opus The Big Short, which netted him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Sadly, his brush with respectability appears to have gone to his head, as his latest film Vice is exasperatingly self-satisfied. It’s a snarky, superficial meditation on the banality of evil, as personified by Machiavellian former US vice president Dick Cheney. To give credit where it’s due, Christian Bale delivers an uncanny impersonation of the uncharismatic bureaucrat, while Amy Adams is riveting as Cheney’s ruthless wife Lynne. But the film’s scattershot structure soon grows tiresome, and too much screen time is squandered building to a heavy-handed climactic gag about Cheney’s heartlessness.

Vice | Directed by Adam McKay (US 2018) with Christian Bale, Amy Adams

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