By the time Christian Bale finally released his grip on me at the end of this breathless, irreverent biography of former Vice-President Dick Cheney, I understood how audiences must have felt after seeing George C. Scott star in Patton: This was not just a performance; this was a landmark moment in movie history.
Bale doesn't just disappear into the role of the growling, scowling VP; he embodies an entire era of American culture. Hijacking the Presidency of George W. Bush (brilliantly inhabited by Sam Rockwell, who was born for the part), Bale's Cheney follows an internal compass whose magnetic north is his own ambition, tempered somewhat by his devotion to his wife (a brilliant Amuy Adams) and daughters.
Writer/director Adam McKay (The Big Short) brings his usual bag of narrative tricks to bear, but he can't overshadow Bale's monumental performance. Opposite any other leading man, Steve Carell would have stolen the show as Cheney's smiling, savvy mentor, Donald Rumsfeld.
The 11 movies I'm most looking forward to in 2019 — plus my interview with the director of "Stan & Ollie," Jon S. Baird.
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