Directed by Tom Gormican
In this wildly entertaining, action-packed comedy, Oscar® winner Nicolas Cage plays… Nick Cage! Creatively unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, the fictionalised version of Cage accepts a million-dollar offer to attend the birthday of a dangerous superfan (Pedro Pascal). Things take an unexpected turn when Cage is recruited by a CIA operative (Tiffany Haddish) and he must use his legendary acting skills, channeling his most iconic and beloved characters to become a real-life action hero.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is directed by Tom Gormican and stars Oscar® winner Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas), Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian, Game of Thrones), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School), Sharon Horgan (Military Wives, Pulling), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, Gone Girl) and Lily Mo Sheen.
So, here we go with another non-horror entry, but I had a screener and this is Nicholas Cage, so…
The Unbeareable Weight of Massive Talent opens with a scene of a young couple watching Con Air confirming what we all know, Nicholas Cage is fucking awesome. While I have certainly not watched all of Cage’s films, he is an actor with an incredible portfolio under his belt that ranges from bill-paying fare like Jiu Jitsu to the power of Leaving Las Vegas and from the whirlwind of Wild at Heart to the warmth of Raising Arizona. There are few actors with a career like Cage’s and, while some may argue that is a good thing, I have never seen a film with Cage in it, that I did not enjoy.
And The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (sorry, going to have to go with TUWMT from now on) has not put a stop to that run.
The last few Cage films I watched, including Mandy, Willy’s Wonderland and Color Out of Space offered that trade-marked Cage craziness that we have all come to love and revere him for. While TUWMT is not nearly as out there as Mandy, or quite as Cage-crazy as Willy’s Wonderland, it does absolutely nail the phenomena that is Nicholas Cage. Which is hardly surprising when you have Nicholas Cage playing ‘Nick Cage’ alongside Nicolas Kim Coppola playing ‘Nicky’, a Wild at Heart era Nicholas Cage appearing as Nick’s troubled psyche. This is a combination clearly designed to entertain.
Playing himself washed up, self-absorbed, TUWMT and Cage are poking fun at his reputation as an actor and a bit of a nut-job. On the edge, Cage is struggling to find work and is about to give up acting when Pedro Pascal’s, Javi, offers him $1m to be the guest of honour at his birthday party. Reluctant at first, Cage accepts the money and travels to Spain where he meets Javi, a superfan almost as nutty as him and, unbeknownst to Cage, potentially a dangerous master criminal.
What could possibly go wrong?
Much like The Interview, Cage has just enough time to go from hating the idea of selling out as an attraction at a party, to getting to know Javi and bonding with him over The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Paddington 2, before being recruited by the CIA to spy on his new friend, suspected of kidnapping a presidential candidate’s daughter. Cage is torn between his growing friendship with Javi and the pressure of the CIA.
Of course, Javi has also written a screenplay he wants Cage to star in and, while Cage uses that as an opportunity to spend more time with Javi and spy on him, they bond further as they plot a story, drop acid and explore the true depth of Javi’s obsession. Things just spiral from thereon in, and misunderstandings and plot twists lead Cage and Javi down a deadly road that could be the end of them both or the making of a beautiful friendship.
TUWMT is a funny film in more ways than one. Obviously it is meant to be as a comedy, but it is also a strange film with an odd set-up that is also genius. I am not sure the film would have worked with anyone other than Cage in this role; I am not sure any other actor has quite the same off-screen legend to pull it off. Without the conceit of Cage playing Cage, TUWMT would have just been another buddy comedy, but the addition of Cage elevates it beyond that. And Cage is having a ball. He is clearly very much ready to laugh at himself and the way he is perceived. Because of this, his inclusion takes TUMWT from a 3/5 action comedy to a 4/5 action comedy.
But it is not just him, the supporting cast is great. Pascal is perfect as the star-struck Javi, Horgan works wonders as Cage’s long-suffering ex-wife and Sheen brilliantly captures the internal battle of a teenager who both loves and resents her father. There isn’t a bum note acting/character-wise in the film. The plotting is a bit daft, but that’s what I was expecting and, while there isn’t a great deal of action in the first couple of acts, the final act makes up for it with some crowd-pleasing Cage moments and an ending that put a big smile on my face.
TUWMT is daft, it’s meta, and the main plot isn’t entirely original but, and this is very important, it’s a lot of bloody fun. Much of this is down to Cage, but Pascal works well alongside him as his straight man (or the closest thing you will get in this film). You want a spin off with Javi and Cage getting caught up in other CIA plots? Hell yeah!
The screener was a 4K disc with Dolby Atmos for the main feature and I viewed it on an 84″ screen via a 4K projector. The player registered 4K, but no HDR. However, the picture was crisp and clear and the colours vibrant, the greenery around Javi’s mansion looking particularly luscious. There was a hint of grain visible on the image, but this leant the picture a nice filmic quality and was not distracting.
The Dolby Atmos is solid, but the early parts of the film don’t really push it. However, the soundtrack was suitably punchy, delivering a wide soundstage and dialogue was clear. The sound does come into its own in the final act though, when the action kicks off and the bullets start flying. It’s not going to give Atmos greats like Dune or Mad Max Fury Road a run for their money, but its works well enough for TUWMT.
Extras on the 4K disc include:
- Audio Commentary with the writer and director
- Deleted Scenes with optional commentary
- The Mind featurette
- Glimmers of a Bygone Cage
- Everybody needs a Javi
- Nick, Nicky and Sergio
- Second Act Action
- Cages 5 and up
- SXSW Film Festival Q&A
so there is plenty to get your teeth into after the film. I haven’t watched all the extras yet, but I am sure the commentary will be entertaining. There are only two deleted scenes and one is fun, but inconsequential, while the other veers into bat-shit crazy territory which wouldn’t quite have gelled with the rest of the film. It almost feels like it could have been an out-take from Wild at Heart and it is easy to see why it was cut.
I shall look forward to having a look at the other extras.
TUWMT is a definite recommendation from me and a film any fan of Nick/Nicholas/Nicky Cage needs to see.
Now, off to Amazon to fill some of the gaps in my Cage collection.
Pictures courtesy of Katalin Vermes/Lionsgate
With thanks to Alex Morris, Publicist and Social Media Manager at Alternate Current
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is on digital, Steelbook, 4K UHD, Blu-ray & DVD now