‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’: Nicolas Cage at his most Nicolas Cage 

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Nicolas Cage has had quite the interesting career. 

His acting resume got off to an extremely fast start, as by the young age of 22, Cage was starring in critically acclaimed films such as “Raising Arizona” and “Moonstruck.” Cage won an Oscar at the age of 32 for his leading role in “Leaving Las Vegas” in 1996, which coincided with his famous forays into the action genre with “The Rock,” “Con Air” and “Face Off” turning him into a certified superstar. Though Cage’s eccentric performance choices and campiness were present in those 90s action-flicks, it became even more apparent in the “National Treasure” franchise films of the 2000s. However after several critical and financial failures in a row, Cage fell out of favor in Hollywood and reportedly fell into deep debts financially. This pushed him towards the world of video-on-demand films, where he starred in a number of poorly received and arguably embarrassing projects, but also a few critically acclaimed independent films such as “Mandy” and “Pig.” Though Cage’s stardom was dying down, the rise of the internet continuing in the 2010s, grew his internet reputation considerably, with him becoming a viral figure. 

Thus leads us to this film “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” This is Cage’s first studio live-action wide release since “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” in 2011, marking an 11-year absence from screens across the country. 

The subject matter of this film even relates to this absence. Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself, a person in deep debt who, out of desperation, accepts a $1 million offer to attend a suspicious superfan’s birthday party. 

As one can assume from the concept, this film is a comedy. The main source of humor is Cage himself, whose eccentric mannerisms inspire countless jokes and quips that are quite humorous. That being said, this film’s comedy is significantly enhanced by Cage and Pedro Pascal’s chemistry. Pascal plays the superfan Javi brilliantly, being a fantastic comedic partner to Cage’s high-octane self.

The humor of the film largely surrounds pop culture and cinema, mostly surrounding the film industry. It references a countless number of Cage films and other famous pictures from across cinematic history. Any person who is a fan of movies, particularly Cage’s, or just the movie industry in general will find the movie hilarious, for its incredible monologues that both parody and showcase their love for the industry. 

Another surprising addition to this film is its action. Now, this isn’t a John Wick-esque film that earns its audience due to its insane action sequences, but it does have some high-energy moments. The staging and direction of these sequences are reminiscent of the 90s and early 00s flicks that Cage starred in, with heightened visuals and effects.  

Overall, if there’s anything to complain about in this film, it is that it does not go crazy enough. The film goes in some strange directions, but with its unique concept and structure, it honestly could’ve gone a bit further into absurdity. I would have sacrificed some of the dramatic material in the film to push the boundary of realism a bit more, but I understand the creative decision not to. 

Ultimately, it is just great to see Nicolas Cage on the silver screen. The man always puts in 100% effort, even if the project doesn’t necessarily deserve it. This truly feels like the beginning, or perhaps the continuation of a Cage-renaissance of sorts, perhaps being the jumpstart for Cage’s return to blockbuster cinema or dramatic work.  

Whichever path he chooses, we should be watching. 

Rating: 4.25/5

 Feature image courtesy of: @nickcagemovie on Instagram

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