Review | The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
This film is about as outrageous as its ridiculous and incredibly accurate title, but alas… and yeah, I’m like a whole year late to this gig, but it’s better late than never! I didn’t actually read anything about this film before I watched it, so I was really going in on a trust exercise… but, I don’t regret it. Let’s dive in!
So, Nicolas Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself, struggling with his career and tormented by his younger, more successful self who appears as a character named Nicky. As if that wasn’t enough, Cage’s character is roped into a mission by the CIA to help take down a billionaire playboy named Javi Gutierrez, played brilliantly by Pedro Pascal – the internet’s “daddy,” who is most definitely probably reading this review right now… maybe.
Lily Mo Sheen plays his daughter, but she’s not actually his daughter. She’s actually the daughter of Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen, the by-product of two equally as amazing actors. Nick does actually have a daughter, but she’s about 22 years younger than Lily… and an infant! Still, Lily does a good job in her portrayal and makes you believe it just might be so. At the ending though, there’s like this whole other daughter situation, and that’s confusing AF for a moment, but you’ll see what I mean.
The chemistry between Cage and Pascal is off the charts; it almost makes you wonder if that makeout scene should’ve been between… you know, what? Nevermind, that’s gotta be a different film. ANYHOW! From their initial awkward interactions to their bonding over obscure films like “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (super random, but okay—also, what’s the appeal about this one, exactly?) and “Paddington 2,” their on-screen dynamic is pure gold.
Nicolas Cage essentially navigates through Javi’s extravagant (and wickedly beautiful) lifestyle, including an LSD-induced escapade, which definitely has made an impact on social media trends lately (see below). At one point, I’m not really sure what is going on between the dialogue of random action-movie mantras and serious ploys, it’s a bit all over the place — but that’s what makes this so good! You genuinely either have absolutely no idea what’s going on, or it dawns on you, and then you feel like the smartest person in the room. It’s “feel good” in that way, I suppose.
The film doesn’t shy away from poking fun at Cage’s own eccentric persona and career choices. There are plenty of self-referential jokes and meta moments that fans of Cage’s work will appreciate. From his obsession with his past movie characters, including a wax figure of Castor Troy from “Face/Off,” to his over-the-top acting methods, the film brilliantly satirizes Cage’s own reputation in Hollywood. There’s legitimately like a whole fandom room, as if Fifty Shades of Grey was Fifty Shades of Nick Cage… but also, where is that movie at? I know you can do it, E.L. James; we believe in you.
The strangest part of this whole movie is definitely when Nicolas Cage goes full throttle Mr. and Mrs. Smith after trying to kill each other on a younger, imaginary version of himself with a bad comb-over. Listen, THAT SCENE should be plastered all over social media, because WTF? If you could be a fly on a wall, would you?
Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz play CIA agents who are absolutely fed up with each other’s existence, but still want to get the job done. And I’ll have you know, Martin Etten, (Ike Barinholtz’s character), that people in the 40+ year old existence absolutely would watch The Croods 2, and not just because they have kids! I mean, I watched it, and I’m a 90’s kid, but nevertheless.
I’ll be honest, my immediate thought was that the storyline is probably going to end up with a twist. I thought maybe “Javi” hired the CIA agents to act out this entire plot, making Nicolas Cage believe the whole kidnapped thing was real, but in reality, maybe no one was kidnapped and everything is controlled by Javi. Yeah, just think like three-layers deep in Inception-level of plot twists. It’s not quite there, but you could’ve (and maybe should’ve) gone there, Tom Gormican!… but, I digress.
There is an actual plot twist within a plot twist, of course, and it kind of sets the scene for the remainder of the film… which still ends up being confusing UNTIL the absolute last few minutes, when it all makes sense. In a way, I guess you did your own Inception-layering, Tom. I’ve got to hand it to you, it was marvelous… and a total mind-f*** for a hot minute, you brilliantly messy lunatic. I love it!
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was filmed in Croatia during the end of 2020, which must have been a blast from Game of Thrones past for Pedro Pascal, who spent a lot of his time in the summer isles of the series. So many of the scenic views captured in the film are genuinely picturesque, and not something you see everyday. I appreciate the attention to vivid details throughout every scene.
Honestly, they could’ve probably waited to release it this year, and it would’ve been a much bigger success than it was at the box office last year. I wish they had, but I’m sure Satum Films, Burr! Productions, and Lionsgate wanted to recover their investment as soon as possible. Ultimately, I hope this film becomes a cult-classic as it should deservedly be.
About the film
Unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, actor Nick Cage accepts a $1 million offer to attend a wealthy fan’s birthday party. Things take a wildly unexpected turn when a CIA operative recruits Cage for an unusual mission. Taking on the role of a lifetime, he soon finds himself channeling his most iconic and beloved characters to save himself and his loved ones.
The cast for this film was absolutely epic, including a lot of familiar faces:
- Nicolas Cage as himself, Nicolas Cage; AND
- Nicolas Cage as “Nicky Cage” (credited by Cage’s birth name Nicolas Kim Coppola), a figment of Cage’s imagination, seen as a younger version of himself. The character is based on the actor’s infamous appearance on the talk show Wogan while promoting Wild at Heart.
- Pedro Pascal as Javi Gutierrez, a billionaire and Cage super-fan who pays Cage $1 million to appear at his birthday party.
- Sharon Horgan as Olivia Henson, a retired film makeup artist and Cage’s ex-wife.
- Lily Mo Sheen as Addy Cage, Cage’s daughter.
- Tiffany Haddish as Vivian Etten, a CIA agent and Martin’s partner.
- Ike Barinholtz as Martin Etten, a CIA agent and Vivian’s partner.
- Alessandra Mastronardi as Gabriela Lucchesi, Javi’s assistant
- Paco León as Lucas Gutierrez, Javi’s cousin and an infamous arms dealer.
- Jacob Scipio as Carlos, one of Lucas’s men.
- Neil Patrick Harris as Richard Fink, Cage’s agent.
- Katrin Vankova as Maria, the kidnapping victim.
- David Gordon Green as himself, a film director who declines to give Cage a role in his new film
- Demi Moore as “Olivia Cage”, Cage’s in-movie fictional ex-wife.
- Anna MacDonald as “Addy Cage”, Cage’s in-movie fictional daughter.
- Joanna Bobin as Cheryl, Cage’s therapist.
I was really surprised to see Demi Moore make a cameo in this one, but I loved it!
Should you watch it?
Um, absolutely! I’d give this one a solid 10/10. It’s creative, it’s unique — it’s not a normal film whatsoever, and for that, there’s a lot of creative freedom in the storyline. If you’re not a die hard Nicolas Cage fan, it’s going to get confusing and quickly, and that’s the fun of it! This is a film I could see watching again someday. It’s worth spending 107 minutes watching it either by yourself or with your loved ones.
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