Where does skit-assembler Adam McKay (SNL, Anchorman) get off receiving name-above-the-title status? The Big Short wasn’t enough to warrant such an elevation, never mind the Oscar noms (and McKay’s win for adapted screenplay), and this throw-everything-against-the-screen-and-see-what-sticks attempt to mimic Oliver Stone is a giant, self-conscious plunge in the wrong direction. Freeze frames, characters addressing the audience, text emblazoned across the screen, and vaulting camerawork conspire to confirm the obvious: McKay relies on one crutch too many to prop up his narrative, and Dick Cheney is an asshole. Aren’t we tired of actors imitating famous people? Any awards Christian Bale receives should be shared with his makeup effects sculptor, Brian Wade. Only Amy Adams’ Lynne Cheney comes off as more performance than impersonation. Then there’s the film’s narrator (Jesse Plemons), the function and identity of whom will leave you guessing right up until the final fade. The repugnance of the revelation is the one aspect of the film that comes close to mirroring the monstrousness of its clench-jawed subject. As such, it’s appallingly appropriate.
Length: 2 hours, 12 minutes