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From 2001 to 2009 George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) was considered the most powerful man in the world. But in his shadow was a man who had expanded his power in Washington for decades and who is regarded as the real puller of this presidency: Dick Cheney (Christian Bale). But how did the man who under Gerald Ford was the White House's youngest chief of staff and under Bush's senior defense minister become such a powerful insider in Washington? And what roles did his wife Lynne (Amy Adams) and his former mentor Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell) play in this?
Answers to these questions director Adam McKay ("The Big Short") tries to answer in an entertaining and enigmatic way in his latest film "Vice - The Second Man". McKay follows stylistically similar paths to "The Big Short": He serves up some very uncomfortable truths with a good portion of irony and allows somewhat more complex connections to be explained in a humorously simplified way. While in "The Big Short" it was Margot Robbie in a bubble bath who explained the pitfalls of the financial world to the viewers, Alfred Molina is allowed to explain some almost unbelievable powers of high-ranking US politicians in a wonderful guest appearance as a waiter. Jesse Plemons as a mysterious narrator, whose role is only revealed at the end, also functions perfectly as a mouthpiece for the viewer, who not only gets an insight into Dick Cheney's political career, but also comprehensibly explains certain processes in US politics. That's sometimes very amusing, but on the other hand it also makes me very angry. But McKay knows how to serve such substances intelligently and entertainingly. In this case this is not quite as clever and subtle as with "The Big Short", but this ruthless politician portrait is definitely successful.
The unrecognizable Christian Bale leaves a lasting impression not only because of the first-class work of the make-up artists. Also his game can convince all along the line. The same applies to Amy Adams and Steve Carell. Oscar-winner Sam Rockwell is well cast as George W. Bush, but his portrayal resembles too much the usual Bush parodies, that there is no real own note to be recognized.
Who likes biting political satires, which entertain, but also strive the intellect, should not miss "Vice - The second man". Not a stroke of genius, but very good, well played and cleverly staged entertainment cinema. Absolutely worth seeing!
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