I was most definitely in the minority on writer/director Adam McKay’s last movie, The Big Short. I found it to be overly ambitious and bizarre, but most of the world loved it, including the Academy, which nominated it for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Directing and Best Adapted Screenplay, which it won. McKay’s latest effort, Vice, is no less ambitious, but I have a weird feeling the Academy won’t embrace it the way it did its predecessor.
Like The Big Short, Vice takes on a big subject in our modern world and looks at it through a cynical and somewhat satirical lens. McKay likes to revel in irreverence, skewering people in power who make decisions that affect everyone and assailing their motivations. The Big Short was a study in cause and effect—motivation (greed) was clear and the result of actions (economic collapse) was played out. However, in Vice, McKay takes a somewhat different approach to his subject, as not only are the motivations of his subject unclear, but the effects of those motivations are reduced to a sidebar. It’s a weird dynamic, but, somehow, still works.