Nicolas Cage is a Hollywood oddity. The award-winning thespian is one of Hollywood’s most well-known veterans, best known for his roles in Face/Off, National Treasure, and Mandy, and in acclaimed movies such as Leaving Las Vegas and Adaptation. Yet, there’s no denying his more quirky persona and is one of those actors where you just know what you’re getting into when you start watching a movie of his.
His acting method is… unique to say the least, from the way he enjoys emphasising the most random words to sometimes busting out into shouting like an exploding volcano and has a rather eccentric look that has birthed some of the best internet memes to ever exist. So if you’re looking for a movie that will give you the most Nicolas Cage movie experience, then the super meta The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is where it’s at.
In this Tom Gormican action-comedy, Cage plays a washed-up actor named Nick Cage – that’s right. Cage plays a fictionalised version of him, and the first quarter of the movie is spent slowly building this character and his backstory as a divorced, broke and absolutely desperate actor who will take up just about any role to make ends meet. It’s very Bojack Horseman but things start to pick up once he agrees to take on a S$1 million offer to attend a wealthy fan’s birthday party, with The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal as Javi.
Unknown to Cage, Javi has been on the CIA’s radar for kidnapping and what was supposed to be a simple appearance turns into a mission as the CIA recruits Cage to spy on Javi and collect as much information as he can on the kidnapping. Nervous, Cage takes this as a little acting role and channels some of the characters we’ve seen in actual Nicolas Cage movies.
The movie is incredibly meta because while the depiction and characterisation of Cage is both fictional and untrue, the movie makes numerous references to Cage’s works and personal life. There were callouts to his extensive filmography, including Moonstruck, Gone in 60 Seconds, Con Air and Face/Off, and more, sprinkled across the film. There was even a statue of Castor Troy (Cage’s character in Face/Off) holding out two gold titanium nitrate guns in Javi’s secret fan shrine.
Not just that, the movie also had a couple of jokes about Cage’s spending habits – which if you didn’t know, actually happened when the actor fell into debt after spending his US$150 million fortune. The movie is a gold mine of Easter Eggs and easily blurs the line between what is real and what isn’t, which makes the movie a whole lot more entertaining.
In it, Cage puts on his most Cage-ian performance in this movie, including loud shouting and comes across as being completely unhinged when things don’t work out as planned. This often manifests in another character named Nicky, also played by actor Cage, who appears to give Cage pep talks by screaming, “I’M NICK F***ING CAGE” every once in a while.
Pascal as Javi shows how versatile of an actor the Chilean-American can be. If you’ve been a fan or a frequent viewer of Pascal’s recent works such as the stoic Din Djarin in The Mandalorian, the logical DEA agent in Netflix’s Narcos or even the opportunistic Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent shows a goofy and comedic side to the actor that many may be surprised by.
That said, the best part of the movie isn’t the fact that this is a Nicolas Cage meta-verse movie, but rather the incredible and hilarious chemistry between Cage and Pascal. An unlikely friendship (supported by an acid trip and a night of bonding) eventually blossoms between Cage and Javi mid-mission halfway through the movie, and the actors play this friends to (reluctant) enemies to friends again relationship in such a wholesome manner.
The actors feed off each other and deliver their jokes in perfect timing, often taking brief pauses before delivering the punchlines right on the beat to get a huge laugh out of the audience. The way their bromance progresses is also so natural too that you can’t help but feel like Cage and Pascal aren’t just acting, but are soulmates in real life too.
Supporting cast include Tiffany Hadish as CIA agent Vivian, and Sharon Horgan as Cage’s ex-wife Olivia, as well as Lily Mo Sheen as Cage’s daughter Addy, all who take up a lot more screen time than expected, though the final payoff with their narrative just isn’t there. Their characters, whilst significant in building up the audience’s understanding of the protagonist and why he is the way he is, are quite forgettable and they weren’t engaging in the way Cage and Pascal are, making audiences hope that if they do make a Face/Off sequel or parody, that Pascal can replace John Travolta.
As an action-comedy film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent hits all the right marks, with high-speed chases, dramatic life or death situations, guns, and lots of it. The comedy within is smart and witty, and tongue in cheek as it mostly pokes fun at Hollywood and filmmaking. Simply said, the movie pulls you in with industry satire, but you’ll willingly stay for an endearingly goofy buddy movie.
The only issue we had with this movie is that it ends rather predictably. The plot twist isn’t exactly shocking (if at all) and the first quarter is a bit of a drag. Nonetheless, the movie makes up for it the moment Cage and Pascal are on screen together.
In all, this film confirms what we already know, that Cage, along with Pascal, are bursting with talent. After all, how do you beat NICK F***ING CAGE in a movie where he plays himself?
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent sees Hollywood legend Nick f***ing Cage and Pedro Pascal in a goofy buddy film that is as zany as it is brilliantly witty.
Story - 9/10
Direction - 8/10
Characterisation - 9/10
Geek Satisfaction - 10/10