Analysis of Vice

Summary "Vice" is a biographical drama about Dick Cheney, starting from his troubled youth as a drunk driver to his rise as Vice President during the 9/11 attacks. The movie showcases his uncanny ability to go unnoticed by the public, political maneuvers to gain power, and key moments in his personal life. The story ends with Cheney and Rumsfeld's political careers coming to a close as Barack Obama is inaugurated, and Cheney receiving a life-saving heart transplant. The movie also follows Liz Cheney's Senate campaign and push polls about her views on gay marriage. Several scenes depict Cheney's actions after 9/11, including a focus group turning violent due to political disagreements.

Screenplay Story Analysis

Story Critique The overall story is well-structured and gives a comprehensive view of Cheney's life and political career. However, some scenes feel disconnected and abrupt, with too much information and too many characters to follow. The focus on the Iraq War and the aftermath overshadows some important events in Cheney's personal life, making the story more one-sided.
Suggestions: To improve the screenplay, focus more on the characters and their motivations, rather than a one-sided view of the political landscape. Develop the scenes more thoroughly, prioritizing the most important events and leaving out irrelevant subplots. Consider building more tension and contrast between Cheney's personal life and his political career, to create a more well-rounded and nuanced story. Finally, consider adding more character development for the supporting cast, especially the female characters who are underrepresented in the story.

Note: This is the overall critique. For scene by scene critique click here

Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:

Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney is a multifaceted character, portrayed as a young wild child who transforms into a stoic, powerful, and ruthless political mastermind. He is ambitious, morally complex, and vulnerable, demonstrating a fierce protectiveness towards his loved ones. Cheney is calculated, detail-oriented, and willing to bend laws and take risks for the sake of power. He is a highly strategic and tactical politician who prioritizes his personal agenda over the greater good of the country. However, he also displays a more vulnerable and emotional side, particularly when facing death or reflecting on his family and past experiences.

Lynne Cheney

Lynne Cheney is a strong-willed and intelligent woman, who is supportive of her husband's political ambitions and devoted to her family. She is a talented writer and educator, and also serves as a political strategist for Dick. She is assertive and determined when it comes to protecting her family's image, while also displaying vulnerability and concern in times of distress.

Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Rumsfeld is a gruff, tough, and demanding individual who has a soft spot for Cheney and sees him as a protege. He has a troubled past involving knives and violence, as shown through flashbacks. Rumsfeld comes across as savvy, manipulative, and ambitious but is also willing to do whatever it takes to gain power. He is a skilled politician and strategist, who is portrayed as Cheney's mentor and friend. Throughout the movie, he is depicted as being more lighthearted and jovial than Cheney, enjoying the waiter's descriptions of various ways to gain power and control.

David Addington

David Addington is a highly intelligent, ambitious, and ruthless lawyer who believes strongly in the Unitary Executive Theory and isn't afraid to be confrontational. He is Cheney's main legal counsel and responsible for all matters relating to executive power, often coming up with legal justifications for Cheney's actions. He is self-assured, opinionated, and unscrupulous, believing that the ends justify the means.

Character Arc Critique Suggestions
Dick Cheney Throughout the movie, Dick Cheney's character arc can be described as a transformation from a young man with a history of drinking and fighting, who needs to prove himself to Lynne, to a powerful political strategist who is willing to do whatever it takes to gain and maintain power. His ambition drives him to take calculated risks and make difficult decisions, which ultimately leads him to become the Vice President of the United States. However, his hunger for power also leads him to bend laws and justify controversial actions, such as the invasion of Iraq. Despite his ruthlessness, Cheney also displays moments of vulnerability, particularly when facing his mortality or reflecting on his family. While Cheney's character arc is clear and well-defined, it focuses primarily on his ambition and thirst for power, at the expense of exploring other aspects of his personality and personal life. Additionally, his character is presented in a rather one-dimensional manner, with minimal exploration of his inner conflicts and emotions beyond his love for his family. There is little to no nuance in the portrayal of Cheney, which may limit the viewers' ability to empathize or connect with him.
To improve Cheney's character arc, it would be beneficial to explore his personal and emotional struggles in more depth, particularly his conflicts between his political ambitions and his loyalty to his family. Additionally, presenting him more as a real person rather than a caricature of a ruthless politician could help create a more nuanced and compelling portrayal. Finally, providing more insight into Cheney's motivations and beliefs could help create a more complex and multifaceted character.
Lynne Cheney Throughout the movie, Lynne Cheney's character arc follows her evolution from a supportive and loving wife to a pragmatic and protective political strategist. Initially, Lynne is portrayed as proud of her husband's career and achievements, but also frustrated with his behavior after a drunken altercation. She puts an ultimatum on their relationship, questioning if Dick can change. Later, Lynne displays her concern for her husband's well-being and appears to be against his re-entering politics. However, she eventually becomes an indispensable force in his political career, serving as his advisor and strategist. Despite her initial skepticism, she shows unwavering support and determination in protecting her family's image and promoting Dick's political ambitions. The character arc of Lynne Cheney is well-developed and consistent throughout the movie. However, some of the scenes involving her character could have been more impactful. For instance, her reaction to the 9/11 attacks is brief, and her subsequent role in the events is not fully explored. Additionally, her vulnerability after her mother's death is not fully developed or explored in later scenes. Further development of these aspects would have added depth to her character.
To improve the character arc of Lynne Cheney, the movie could have included more scenes showing her involvement and impact in politics, especially in the post-9/11 era. Additionally, the movie could have explored her vulnerability and grief after her mother's death in more detail, and how it affects her relationship with Dick. This would have added more emotional depth and complexity to her character.
Donald Rumsfeld Donald Rumsfeld's character arc in the screenplay is primarily about his relationship with Cheney and how it impacts his career. At first, Rumsfeld is shown as a partner in crime with Cheney, sharing his hunger for power and willingness to do whatever it takes to gain it. However, as their careers take different paths, Rumsfeld becomes skeptical of Cheney's tactics. He begins to question whether Cheney's actions are ethical and worries about the consequences they will have on their political party. Despite these misgivings, Rumsfeld remains ultimately loyal to Cheney and stands by him even when it means putting his own career on the line. The character arc for Donald Rumsfeld is well-written, showcasing his journey from a ruthless politician to a more empathetic and nuanced character. However, the arc could benefit from more exploration of Rumsfeld's internal struggle between his morality and his loyalty to Cheney. While the movie illustrates his doubts about Cheney's tactics, it does not fully delve into his emotional turmoil or explore the reasons behind his eventual decision to remain loyal. Additionally, the arc neglects to recognize the impact of Rumsfeld's troubled past on his present-day behavior, leaving the audience with an incomplete picture of the character.
To improve the character arc for Donald Rumsfeld, the screenplay could add more scenes that showcase his internal struggles and emotional turmoil. For instance, the movie could expand on the reasons behind his decision to remain loyal to Cheney despite his misgivings. Furthermore, the arc could benefit from more exploration of Rumsfeld's troubled past and the impact that it has on his present-day behavior. By portraying Rumsfeld as a more complex and multi-dimensional character, the screenplay could deepen the audience's engagement with his story and ultimately create a more impactful arc.
David Addington Throughout the movie, David Addington's character arc involves a gradual realization of the dangers of unchecked executive power and what it costs in terms of personal and political morality. At the beginning of the movie, he is confident in his beliefs and willing to do whatever it takes to maintain and expand executive power. As he becomes increasingly involved in the administration's actions, however, he begins to question the ethics of their methods and the cost to the nation's democratic principles. Eventually, he reaches a breaking point where he realizes that he cannot continue to blindly support the administration, leading him to confront Cheney and resign from his position. The arc is well-developed, but could benefit from more nuanced exploration of Addington's emotional state and relationships with other characters. By focusing more on his internal struggle and interactions with others, his arc would be more relatable and compelling to the audience.
One suggestion could be to introduce a scene where Addington has a personal relationship with someone who is affected by the administration's actions, which could cause him to question his beliefs. Alternatively, adding more moments of vulnerability and self-reflection throughout the film could help the audience empathize with his journey.