Nicolas Cage Gets His Shit Together in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Nicolas Cage plays two versions of himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a self-aware action-comedy that rewards audience familiarity, or obsession, with the actor’s repertoire. One version of Cage is a figment of the other’s imagination, and to give you an idea of where the movie is going, at one point they make out with each other. Although director and co-writer Tom Gormican peppers the film with many references to Cage’s filmography, his movie is also broadly appealing because it keeps putting charming actors in increasingly bizarre, dangerous situations. Longtime Cage obsessives already know from Mandy and Pig that the actor is still at the top of his game, so perhaps Gormican’s target audience are those who remember Face/Off and The Rock most fondly. Either way, Cage’s mantra to himself is that he never really went away from the public eye, and this film exists to prove that.

When we catch up with Cage, he is circling the drain of his career. Nakedly desperate and anxious, he debases himself for any director who considers him for a part. His self-absorption is so complete he humiliates his fictional daughter Addy (Anna MacDonald) at her own birthday party, while his fictional ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) regards him with total disgust. Everyone seems to lose their patience with him, including “Nicky,” his younger CGI alter ego, a pure manifestation of Cage’s id. Nicky wears a Wild At Heart t-shirt and acts like the drifter from Red Rock West, a cruel, often hilarious reminder that the line between bravado and desperation can be razor thin.

Cage still has debts to pay, and with few acting opportunities, he accepts a $1 million check to appear at a fan’s birthday in Majorca, Spain. That fan is Javi (Pedro Pascal), an olive oil magnate who might be the world’s biggest Cage fan. The two strike up an easy friendship because no actor is immune to flattery, although there is a slight complication: A CIA agent named Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) believes Javi is an arms dealer who has taken a politician’s daughter as a hostage. Vivian convinces Cage to become the world’s most unlikely spy, a role he reluctantly accepts, then relishes with aplomb.

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