The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, review: Nicolas Cage’s weirdest role yet

Nicolas Cage: a cinematic treasure or a punchline, a cult hero or a meme? From his work with David Lynch to his memorable forays into 90s action-hero mode, Cage is as erratic as he is interesting to watch.

Prone to overblown statements and OTT behaviour (both on screen and off), the actor has also never been afraid to laugh at himself. Case in point: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, an archly funny new action-comedy where Cage stars as… an actor called Nick Cage, whose previous credits include films such as Face/Off, Con Air and Gone in 60 Seconds.

Pedro Pascal and Nicolas Cage in a scene from ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ (Photo: Katalin Vermes/Lionsgate via AP)

Broadly goofy, full of nod-and-wink quips about Hollywood that you may or may not find amusing, and more than a tad-self-indulgent, this is a fun Friday night movie that won’t linger long past the closing credits.

Cage, cash-strapped, freshly divorced and fed up with his work after a failed audition, takes on an uneasy-money gig to appear at a billionaire super-fan’s birthday bash in Spain. Leaving behind his concerned ex-wife (Sharon Horgan, a sharp-witted highlight, as ever) and his alienated teenage daughter (Lily Sheen), he sets off for Mallorca.

The billionaire in question, Javi, is played by an endearing Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian), whose palatial home hides an embarrassing shrine to Cage-related memorabilia. But that may not be all he is hiding. In a ridiculous plot twist, we learn that Javi may be the head of a powerful drug cartel – the same one that recently kidnapped a politician’s daughter to demand political muscle.

Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz play inept CIA agents on the case when they realise that Cage may be the perfect mole.

Tiffany Haddish and Nicolas Cage in a scene from The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Photo: Karen Ballard/Lionsgate via AP)

Amid the surprisingly warm banter between Cage and Javi, Cage expertly “acts” his way into the man’s good graces, agreeing to write a screenplay with him as he noses around for CIA intel.

The results are as silly, gunfire-riddled, and car-chase-oriented as to be expected, but there are some pretty good chuckles along the way – a favourite being when the two stoned men stage a dramatic goodbye scenario as they fail to climb over a wall to safety… before realising they could have walked around it instead.

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Cage plays it earnestly even as he is the centre of the joke, and the sarcastic ego deflations of his weary wife and daughter are often scathing.

Of course, when Cage prevails in the conclusion (because of course he does), he wins back the affection of his family, and still gets his imaginary younger, cocky alter-ego, Nicky, to cheer him on.

By the end, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent no longer feels like a self-deprecating title at all – it is more like a double bluff.

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