Written by Jack Ransom
It’s crazy to think that Nicolas Cages last major live action role in a mainstream film that got a widespread cinema release (Mandy, Pig and some of his other critically acclaimed indie features only received limited runs) was probably Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance back in 2012. Thankfully now 10 years later he is back in this thoroughly entertaining, clever, unique and suitably wild comedy romp, that will no doubt please fans of the legend himself.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent sees a fictionalised version of Nick Cage (Nicolas Cage) must accept a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of a dangerous super fan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal). Things take a wildly unexpected turn when Nick Cage is recruited by a CIA operative Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) and forced to live up to his own legend, channeling his most iconic and beloved on-screen characters in order to save himself and his loved ones.
The heavily meta/self-referential style of comedy is one that has become extremely popular in recent years and admittedly in some cases becomes grating. That is not the case here. Face/Off, The Wicker Man, Con Air, The Rock… all get their mentions (as well as lesser known Cage pictures such Guarding Tess & Captain Corelli’s Mandolin), but they are presented with such love and infectious optimism it’s impossible not to grin at. As well as the meta element, there is a genuine sense of heart and a compelling comment to be made on the persona and status within the industry of the real life Cage himself.
Admittedly the film does fall into very familiar third act action territory. Even though it is a mockery of action/thriller features that *have* to end in an explosive blowout to wrap up their story, it still executes a largely standard one of those for the finale. Thankfully the wackiness that has come before, including Cage frequently conversing with “Nicky” (his Wild at Heart attired fame loving personality), a riotous acid trip sequence and Javi’s ‘Cage Cave’ all deliver in spades.
Cage is great here. Playing himself (and at times himself within a movie) must be a daunting task but he nails it. The scene where he essentially ‘turns on’ his acting mode is genuinely epic. Delivering genuine emotion, lunacy and bleeding charisma as he navigates his own present, future and career back catalogue. He and Pedro Pascal have a great bromance, and the latter captures the fanboy affection and excitement perfectly. Tiffany Haddish, Sharon Horgan and Ike Barinholtz all are very enthusiastic in their supporting roles.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a celebration of all things Cage. The man himself does a great job here by tapping into every one of his trademark techniques and he is backed up by a fun supporting cast. The pacing moves quick, and the quick fire nature of the gags coupled with the zanier moments is certainly enough to fill the runtime, though the pacing is unfortunately hindered slightly by the fairly uninspired third act action set pieces. Still, this is essential viewing for Cage fans.