Movie Review: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Nicolas Cage stars in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a crime action comedy caper that sees the star play a variation of himself in Nick Cage. Written by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten, this movie essentially serves as a self-congratulatory tribute and high five to the household name, who’s come to represent the best and worst of Hollywood.

Catching up with the present day actor, who’s vying for a new role and staring down a $600,000 hotel bill, Cage is forced to accept a lucrative VIP invitation to a wealthy fan’s home. Arriving to an idyllic coastal residence, the former glory actor finds himself caught up in a dangerous game between his super fan buddy and an undercover CIA operation.

They say playing yourself on screen is extremely difficult – even just walking normally is a challenge according to Dame Helen Mirren. There have been films like Being John Malkovich, a mind-bending tribute to an actor with his own charms. So how did Nicolas Cage land his own tribute movie and what makes the actor so adept – able to play a version of himself and even his alter-ego in a film about Nicolas Cage where he riffs his most famous performances with actual clips from previous films?

Born Nicolas Kim Coppola, the young actor switched his pseudonym to Cage in order to be cool and not coast on the coattails of the Coppola name made famous by his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola. Having been born into the Coppola family, you’d have expected him to follow in the tradition of crime drama that has become synonymous with the name. Yet, the undeniably talented wild card actor has continued to flaunt his abilities and versatility on both sides of the comedy/drama spectrum.

Starting with his first feature film appearance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982, the actor’s enjoyed a career spanning 40 years. Over this time, Cage has worked with David Lynch, Werner Herzog, Spike Jonze, John Woo, Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese, attached to artistic and challenging endeavours that push boundaries and reverberate with creative vision.

unbearable weight of massive talent movie 2022

“You see that camera over there?”

While this list of who’s who directors proves his viability and tremendous talent, Cage typically stuck to his role as a working actor. This means in order to keep up his collection of castles, he’s had to accept regular acting jobs amassing over 100 acting credits. As a leading actor, this is an incredible feat, but one that has forced him to accept less desirable roles in “bread-and-butter” type movies. Having won an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, long regarded as the pinnacle of the acting game, Cage seemed content to just go with the flow.

Usually movie trailers will milk their Oscar winners but for Nic Cage, it seems as though this tactic would probably derive more muffled laughter than sombre respect. Whether it’s been to service hotel bills, taxes or divorce settlements, Cage has maintained a steady film career. His zany appeal seems to be locked into his tightrope walk as a human being and Hollywood star, able to summon pure on-screen magic in an industry built on lightning-in-a-bottle moments.

Colourful espionage thriller, The Gray Man, channeled pure Nic Cage energy to propagate it’s face/off between Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans. Blurring the lines between reality and unreality seems to be Cage’s specialty, giving the audience permission to slip into a little make-believe with a master entertainer and maniac at the wheel. As horrendous as the movies get, and there are some absolute clangers, his devil-may-care attitude and live-wire energy is usually enough to keep watching.

In a way, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was inevitable – the equivalent of a greatest hits album. Typically signaling the best has come and gone, Cage is the sort of actor who has worked himself into a place where he’s free of expectation. When he does stumble into the odd performance that reminds us what he’s capable of like in Pig, there’s a Cage revival, which could keep him relevant in every stage of his career.

Starring opposite Game of Thrones and Wonder Woman 1984’s Pedro Pascal, the two enjoy surprisingly good chemistry that compels The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Pascal’s light-dark vibrations are used quite expertly to craft an action comedy caper where dualities and misunderstandings thrive. Cage playing Cage in a self-referential film already gives this movie a great deal of wiggle room and it takes a bold actor to accept a co-star role in such a bizarre “vanity” project.

While the self-reflective Hollywood insider comedy turned covert CIA thriller plot has its campy charms, compelled by pop culture undercurrent, it’s really just an exercise in Nic Cage appreciation. Much like its title, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a wink-wink affair, playfully tipping the hat to various iconic Cage roles without requiring expert knowledge to be entertained. Face/Off, Con Air, The Rock, Wild at Heart, Guarding Tess, It Could Happen to You… Cage is able to give audiences a highlights tour of his filmography – even poking fun at his involvement with Croods 2.

Cage has plenty of fun as Nick Cage, a self-parody with enough substance to mine due respect and play up the egotistical side of being a Hollywood star. Veering from inside jokes with Neil Patrick Harris to action-orientated spycraft with Tiffany Haddish, this is a rollicking action comedy that hinges on your love for all things Nicolas Cage. The language is coarse and there are a few moments where it verges on ludicrous but Cage anchors the vehicle with his off-the-wall antics, charm and conviction.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent has its moments, elevated by Pedro Pascal’s role as a super fan and driven by its self-parody undercurrent with ever-ready entertainer Nic Cage at the helm. A playful jaunt that cleverly utilises and counterbalances its star power, perhaps this film will create its own subgenre for other actors who have been around for decades.

The bottom line: Amusing