Okay, let’s get it out of the way: I’m a big Nic Cage fan. As well as his objectively good stuff (Leaving Las Vegas, Face/Off, The Rock), I really love some of his weirder entries, as well (Pig, Prisoners of the Ghostland, Color out of Space, Mandy, Willy’s Wonderland, etc, etc).
So, going into The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was like a funhouse for me. This is Nic Cage in his element. Not only is he playing an exaggerated, nonsensical version of himself, but he does it with tongue firmly in cheek.
Let’s back up for a second.
Massive Talent follows a semi-realistic fictionalised version of Nic Cage (known as Nick Cage). Instead of sons, he has a teenage daughter (Lily Sheen) and an ex-wife (Sharon Horgan). And, instead of having a thriving acting career, he is struggling. He owes $600k to the hotel he’s been living at for way too long, and can’t get a new gig to save his life.
Enter: Javi (Pedro). An eccentric billionaire in Spain who is obsessed with Nick Cage and every film he has ever released.
Javi offers Cage $1 million to hang out with him at his birthday party.
Nick begrudgingly agrees and flies to Spain. But something happens he doesn’t quite expect: He and Javi become best friends.
Before long, it’s revealed Javi is actually a cartel boss who has kidnapped the president’s daughter (yeah, no, really) and the CIA secretly recruit Nick to take him down from the inside.
Massive Talent’s plot is quite predictable and unremarkable in places, but there is some meta-commentary to it.
At one point, Nick and Javi discuss writing a movie about themselves and scoff at the idea of ending it with an overblown car chase and pointless explosions… just before exactly that happens.
The plot certainly isn’t why you’re here, though: Nic is.
Nic plays Nick with a comical deftness that has rarely been seen in his filmography to date. He is perfect on his punchlines and absolutely stone-faced in the more hysterical moments (of which there are many).
And the few emotionally charged moments of the film are peppered throughout the romp to remind you that – oh right, Nic Cage is an Oscar-winning actor!
But he’s at his best when he’s poking fun at himself.
In Massive Talent, Nick is plagued by a vision of his younger self – in that outfit from that Wogan interview – where he is egged on to do some of the most raucous in the movie.
Through these moments Nic brings out some of that classic Nick Cage Crazy that he is known for from his more deranged films; such as Mandy, et al.
But the real joy of Nic’s performance comes from his on-screen relationship with Pedro’s Javi.
The sweet, loving Javi is just a delight to watch. And Pedro obviously had so much fun working with Nic that their relationship was almost palpable.
You’ll be living for the pair’s romance(?) so much that you’ll probably switch off when they’re not on screen together.
Despite how funny and entertaining Massive Talent is, a lot could be improved with it.
Nic and Pedro and their relationship aside, Massive Talent doesn’t really do anything new or exciting. There’s an 11th-hour reveal and a surprise “twist” of an ending, but it falls of deaf ears at that point.
There’s no real creativity in the cinematography nor the score, so don’t look there for any inspiration.
Enjoy Massive Talent for what it is: A veiled celebration of Nic Cage and his artistry.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is in cinemas tomorrow.
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