Nic Cage has had quite a career. That is both a compliment and a criticism. And reality. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent looks to capitalize on his topsy turvy resume and, like his filmography, it’s a mixed bag. An enjoyable mixed bag.
Not nearly as entertaining as his earlier fare and far from the zany B-grade fare he’s known for more recently, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent nonetheless is a satisfying action-comedy-drama that goes meta on Nic Cage. Cage plays a fictional version of himself who, in an attempt to pay off his massive debt, agrees to appear at a millionaire’s villa for a birthday party and ends up getting recruited by the CIA to help find a missing girl. In the process, he rediscovers himself and once again becomes the movie star he once was (not that he ever left).
Not quite as clever or wink-wink as it thinks it is, the movie is still a fun, fast-paced ride that gets better as it goes along. It thrives thanks to the chemistry between Cage and co-star Pedro Pascal, who, if he isn’t a Nic Cage fanboy in real life, gives one hell of a performance as a Face/Off-loving quasi-Mafia leader. As for Cage himself, he looks to be having a blast poking fun at himself, even if the movie itself shies away from really roasting the man.
Directed and co-written by Tom Gormican, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent works best as a comedy, even if it misses some opportunities to really go for broke. The weirdest moments are where Nic Cage talks with his younger, wilder self (some good makeup or CGI work?), who advocates that he isn’t just an actor but a movie star in need of reclaiming his former glory. It’s that self-awareness that drives the movie, though again there’s a difference between self-awareness and willingness to actually capitalize upon it. Still, Pascal’s enthusiastic performance helps elevate the material, serving as a conduit for the fandom that clearly went into the making of this film.
The CIA/Mafia action plot is largely trash, but it achieves its purpose of allowing Cage to channel his former action star glory in amusing ways. I laughed out loud a few times, which says something.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent may not be the meta Nicolas Cage movie we deserve, but it’s an entertaining if not fully realized attempt for Cage to turn things on the audience for once. Recommended for Nic Cage fans, and not a person more.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.