The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is an action comedy written by Tom Gormikan in collaboration with Kevin Iten. This film attracted a lot of attention for the simple reason that it was advertised as a coma project Nicolas Cage interprets itself. It premiered at the South by Southwest festival in Austin on March 12, and will be released theatrically by Lionsgate on April 22.

At the beginning of the film, we see the creatively unfulfilled and financially unstable Nicolas Cage, who is rejected for the role he wanted so much – the role would confirm his status as a movie star, but he would also be recognized as a quality character actor. Disappointed, he decides to give up acting and accepts to attend the birthday party of a fan of Havi (Peter Pascal) on the coast of Spain for a million dollars. Havi is targeted by the CIA because he is suspected of being an arms dealer and of kidnapping the daughter of an influential politician. Finally, the agents decide to hire Cage to investigate his host as well as his lavish estate.

The fact that the actor agreed to star in such a project without much dramatization or fictionalization only proves that he is a self-aware character who has embraced his title of “King of Mimes.” In this film, his character must live with his own legend and channel the most popular and beloved film heroes he has portrayed in order to save himself and his loved ones. There is no doubt that the authors of this film adore Cage, but they are not so overwhelmed with affection that they present him or his film version in a completely flattering way, on the contrary.

The plot is complete fiction in the sense that the real Nicolas Cage was almost certainly never accidentally involved in a kidnapping scheme in which the actor takes the unofficial position of a CIA agent who exposes and takes down an international arms dealer. It feels more like one of the films Cage would have made at the height of his fame, when he set aside his specialty of portraying eccentric and unpredictable characters to play less eccentric and predictable Hollywood action heroes.

The fact is that Cage never seemed quite suited to the role of an action hero. This movie basically confirms that, but at the same time admits that the only good reason a good number of people know about Cage is because of those nineties movies. For example, the teenage girl whose kidnapping drives one of the film’s plots watches Cage in the film Con Air – when we meet the actor’s version in this film, it is clear to us that he is very far from the “regular guy” who saves the day and reunites with his family.

Cage in this film is desperate and hungry for the role of his life, one that will “remind people of his true acting abilities.” He wants to maintain the status of a movie star and the income and fame that goes with it, but also for that public recognition to be a product of the fact that he is a superb character actor. He is a man at odds with himself, not only trying to balance his work with his family, but also figuring out what his career should be. At times we see Cage arguing with his younger self about just that – the younger Nick would passionately want nothing but fame, while the current Nick would still want respect more.

Aside from Cage’s portrayal of himself, the best thing about this film is the way the writers openly question the actor’s recent career trajectory and are somewhat blunt about the financial reasons for that path. While this character isn’t technically the real Cage, there’s so much honesty and precarious vulnerability in Cage’s performance that there’s little (or much) truth to watching the real Cage – that way we can see the film as a restrained tribute to its subject without fear of becoming a parody.

The real core of the story is the actor’s inner conflicts and doubts, and there is also the growing, deepening friendship between the actor and his fan that crosses the star-fan barrier and becomes a tender and sincere relationship. Therein lies the script’s metahumor – not because of their friendship, but because a film these days can no longer be just about two characters talking and connecting for most viewers. This is precisely why the authors turn a sincere comedy based on a character into a predictable spy story, which in the final act becomes an action extravaganza full of shootings and car chases, i.e. into what most viewers today want to see on the cinema screen.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is light, good-natured fun and a consistent but predictable portrayal of Nicolas Cage as an actor, as a screen presence, and as a cultural icon.

my final rating: 7/10

Source: The Filmske Recenzije by

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