The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

by Toby Woollaston

It’s not the first time that the “actor-plays-himself” hook has got our attention. Most notably, Being John Malkovich revelled in its self-referential malaise as Malkovich played himself on the big screen to many plaudits. It was darkly humorous, devilishly clever and always had plenty to say. Here, like its ridiculous title, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, is absurdly stupid and has a whole lot less to say. But hoo boy it says a whole lotta nothing in an entertaining way.

Nicholas Cage plays a fictionalised version of himself called, yep, Nick Cage. Having been turned down for his dream acting role and seemingly at the end of his acting career, Cage, still clutching onto his fame accepts a lucrative job to attend a billionaire’s birthday party in Spain. His attendance fee alone will pay off a few bad debts, but what he doesn’t realise is that the party host, Javi (Pedro Pascal), is on the CIA wanted list. Drawing on his self-proclaimed Nouveau shamanic acting technique, Cage reluctantly becomes their man on the inside. Chaos ensues.

Cage, the man, the myth, the legend, has spanned the spectrum of cinema from the sublimely brilliant Adaptation to the woefully bad City of Angels and TUWOMT delights in running through his back-catalogue to comedic effect. The film also reveals Javi to be a Cage fan-boy who, when not gushing over Cage, is also a wannabe film writer and wants Cage to read his script.

The fresh-faced Pascal (Wonder Woman 1984, Game of Thrones) is the surprise package here. His sizeable comic chops riff off Cage’s goofiness and together they passionately walk the tightrope of friend and foe. It is in those moments where this film works best, and although their awkward bromance is laced with the obligatory explosions, car chases, and noisy plot cogs turning, TUWOMT still provides plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and a satisfying finale. As an action-adventure buddy-flick, it’s pretty good. As a vehicle for Cage’s jittery wild-eyed antics its friggiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnWHOA! awesome.

See my reviews for the NZ Herald here and for Witchdoctor here.