It’s a beacon of acting light that could only be ruined by making a sequel.
Director Tom Gormican
Screenplay Tom Gormican, Kevin Etten
Starring Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris
Gormican’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is one of the rare occurrences when someone worthy of a life’s work tribute gets everything they deserve and more. This undertaking had to be a tricky one. In order to praise and accurately evaluate Cage’s entire career meant the writers and director had to be able to throw a few punches, and Cage had to be able to take those punches with a smile. The difference between Cage’s post blockbuster career and that of Bruce Willis is that Cage is willing to do challenging low budget material (i.e. Pig – one of the best movies of 2021 – Mandy and Color Out of Space). To be sure, he’s still an incredibly talented actor. One may even describe his gift as “Massive Talent” without embellishment.
The story starts with the kidnapping of the daughter of a politician in Mallorca. Meanwhile, in America, Cage is working on getting a part in a feature directed by David Gordon Green. He’s also working on improving his relationship with his daughter. When both efforts go south, he takes an offer to go to Mallorca for the birthday party of Javi Guitierrez (the brilliant Pascal), he takes the offer because he’s retiring from acting.
Anyone who has seen the commercial knows that Nic ends up working on the side with the CIA, because they think that Javi is the leader of the drug cartel behind the kidnapping. The agents (Haddish and Barinholtz) need him as an inside man to just do one thing, then another. Each effort is hilarious as it is ridiculous, allowing Cage to exercise his “Nouveau Shamanic” acting talent to the hilt.
What is better is his chemistry with Pascal, who is always good but is very fun and enigmatically innocent here. It’s clunky at first, as one might expect, but as time goes by it becomes obvious how great their personalities merge. The trick with showing how devoted a fan following Nic Cage has is bringing up the mixture of his good work, average work and bad work and not over praising the first two or dumping on the latter. Pascal puts out all of the right energy into the effort relaying Gormican and Etten’s screenplay, making this film a fair and fun appraisal of Cage’s career.
What doesn’t work as well is Cage’s interactions with Nicky Cage, his younger, movie superstar alter ego. The animation is lacking, but it does give us the option of seeing Cage’s unhinged manic scream a few times.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is an extremely watchable film. I have seen it 3 times already and I can see myself going back through Cage’s ouvre to get some of the films mentioned that I never bothered to watch. It also gives a great reminder how incredible Cage actually is when it comes to acting. I had not been convinced of this prior to watching this film. It’s a beacon of acting light that could only be ruined by making a sequel.
(**** out of *****)