McKay’s work is not your typical biopic. It begins on the most crucial day in Cheney’s career, September 11th. In the face of the burning twin towers, the vice advises his boss to stay in the air with Airforce One and thus de facto seizes power in the state. A great moment for a man who was kicked out of the elite university because of binge drinking and incompetence and somehow more and more by chance, partly because of good relationships, partly because of skillful chess and trickery, has had an amazing career. The fact is, at least, that Cheney was already working in the White House when Richard Nixon was in office and immediately relegated his sponsor, Donald Rumsfeld, to his place. McKay never really goes into detail and in principle always leaves the viewer in the dark as to what is fact and what is assumption or even invention in the depiction. Only when things get too satirical does the fog clear a little. Thus, the direction of the plot sometimes comes close to that of the propaganda films by Michael Moore. At the same time, it shows that the target area of the statement is in the USA, where people like to throw a rougher blade in political matters. So everyone should check for themselves whether they can follow claims such as: Cheney had introduced the word climate change to use a milder term for “global warming” or Colin Powell was directly responsible for it with his speech to the UN Security Council of the IS.
Apart from the somewhat opaque sources, the director also takes the viewer on an interesting and sometimes entertaining journey through political America and its recent past. However, the restriction here, too, is that Cheney is a Republican and apart from an Obama in front of cheering crowds, there is no Democrat to be seen anywhere. And after the credits, the incumbent president gets a swipe.
There is no question that the cast is terrific. Christian Bale once again provides proof of his versatility, both in terms of appearance and play. Steve Carell could double as Rumsfeld and Sam Rockwell as Bush Jr. comes across as the perfect caricature of the same. Not to forget Amy Adams, who as the strong woman behind Cheney always knows exactly what to do. The figures are alive and make the good two hours of running time appear significantly shorter.
Genre: Biopic; FSK: 12 years; 132 minutes; Distribution: Universum; Director: Adam McKay; Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell; USA 2019