Cert 15 132mins Stars 3

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are noticeably absent from this amusing and self-aware biopic of US political mastermind, Vice President Dick Cheney.

Former Batman star, Christian Bale, charts Cheney’s rise to power with a restrained and masterful glower while being barely recognisable as the balding, fat and aged politician.

It’s a terrific performance for which the British actor deservedly won the Golden Globe for best actor and has being nominated for the equivalent BAFTA and Oscar {will change this if he isn’t – find out Tuesday 22nd}.

Meanwhile the BAFTA nominated Amy Adams is breathtakingly fierce as Lynne, his wife, whose ferocious drive and thwarted ambition is held responsible for providing the thrust for Cheney’s ascent.

He’s presented as a ruthless, unrepentant and amoral patriot who’s obsessed with power, and is the real force in the White House during the tenure of President George W. Bush.

He’s played Sam Rockwell who kicks back, plays dim and suffers daddy issues, meanwhile Steve Carell enjoys himself as Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

Written and directed by Adam McKay, this is a companion piece to his Oscar-winning 2015 hit, The Big Short, which was a comic and condemnatory examination of those responsible for the financial crash.

McKay adopts a similar approach here, mixing dramatic recreations and news footage with a gift for explaining complex legal matters into easy to digest scenes, so even dummies such as me can understand them.

But there is nothing new or revelatory here, and regurgitating known events is the not the same as creating a drama, plus the enjoyably jokey tone undermines an interesting attempt to pitch Cheney’s life as a Shakespearean tragedy.

And having explained at length how Cheney creates the conditions which offered the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency, McKay then hectors us for our stupidity in allowing it to happen.

Yet Bale makes it worthwhile to indulge in this mostly enjoyable and undemanding vice. 

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