With Vice, writer-director Adam McKay further embraces the blackly comic docudrama aesthetic he established in The Big Short, by which he (understandably) fumes about recent American history through a lens of sardonic recreations of actual events; scattershot stock footage capturing the era; fourth wall-breaking asides; and big performances that register mostly as caricatures. Unfortunately, the concoction is even less coherent this time. Here the focus is Dick Cheney, vice president under George W. Bush, brought to life by way of mimicry and heavy makeup (Christian Bale plays the part). The message is clear (I’m glad I know who to blame for everything from ISIS to the potholes in my neighborhood: Cheney!), but as a portrait of a real-world villain the movie is muddled and lacking any sort of compelling theory. If you watched the news carefully during the Iraq War, all of this will be obvious and familiar. The Big Short at least was occasionally funny, but here the formalist flourishes mostly land with a thud, including a fancy dinner with Cheney and his cronies where they choose things like “enhanced interrogation” from the menu. I’m all for a filmmaker exploring new directions (I’ll always love you, Talladega Nights), but I’m not sure making Michael Moore fan fiction is proving to be a fruitful one for McKay.