The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Review: Cage and Pascal’s bromance carries the film
Nicolas Cage has had a quiet resurgence in his acting career over the last few years starring in small films that let his big personality flourish and his latest film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, is a fun culmination of his acting ability and filmography.
Given the kind of wild roles he’s been taking in films like Mandy and Willy’s Wonderland, it was only a matter of time before Cage starred as himself for a movie. That time has finally come with The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent as Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself who’s hitting a major slump in his career to the point where he’s contemplating retiring. However, he decides to do one last gig and meet with Javi (Pedro Pascal), an eccentric billionaire who is Cage’s biggest fan, but it doesn’t go as planned. While Cage doesn’t originally care to meet Javi, the two form as bond that reignites Cage’s spark, but their relationship quickly becomes complicated when he becomes ensnared into a CIA plot against Javi.
The early moments of Cage struggling in his career to be the big name that he used to be feel right on par with where his career has been at for a long time. While Cage has found a supportive environment and fanbase for his signature weirdness and delightful batch of unique characters, you certainly don’t see him starring in big action blockbusters like Con-Air and The Rock anymore. Don’t get me wrong, what’s shown in the film is a dramatized version of him in a slump and he’s actually very open about loving where his career has taken him, but there’s definitely some reality to him not being in the spotlight much anymore. Cage makes these moments have some real emotion to them and it feels like a fitting way for a wider audience to be reintroduced to him.
Right from the start, Cage instantly showcases that sense of outrageous charm that’s made people fall in love with him again and it’s more fun than ever to see him play a heightened version of himself. He just perfectly knows how to go to the right level of over the top and the fact that he gets to have bouts with an imaginary younger version of himself is even more hilarious. However, for the first time in any of his recent films, Cage finds a perfect match to his weirdness in Pascal and the bromance that ensues between Cage and Javi is an endless treat.
Even when things are initially awkward between Cage and Javi, you just can’t help but laugh at Javi’s inner fan wanting to bust out and geek over Cage just being in his presence as well as Cage wallowing in his misery. However, once their icy bond melts over an improvised monologue moment between the two, their on-screen friendship never ceases its hilarity. From their debates about Paddington 2 being the best movie ever to a hilarious drug binge scene where they literally write their own paranoia, Cage and Pascal have the perfect kind of chemistry for this movie and commit to every ounce of their goofy bromance. They’re easily the biggest highlight of the film and continually make it a comedic blast even when the film’s story is so-so.
While Cage and Pascal’s chemistry makes the film mostly enjoyable, the story that ties it all together isn’t all that special. The entire CIA plot that runs throughout the film is pretty thin and just acts as a cheap excuse for conflict. It eventually becomes super bloated and convoluted to the point where it totally drags the pacing and goes on for too long. Frankly, the action-packed finale feels forced and what it provides in action isn’t noteworthy, especially compared to Cage’s other action movies. Overall, the plot gives viewers enough to facilitate the better parts of the film but is mostly unremarkable.
The film also doesn’t do enough to celebrate Cage’s legacy as an actor. There are some great nods to Cage’s work throughout the film and the meta talk about filmmaking between Cage and Javi is very enjoyable, but there really isn’t enough fun nods to Cage’s past work. Given how big Marvel is now, it’s sad that there’s no big talk surrounding Cage’s time as Ghost Rider, especially considering it’s one of his most notable roles, and it would’ve been nice to see Cage’s more recent works be touched on since they’ve literally resurged his career. There’s enough here to make dedicated Cage fans happy, but it does feel like a missed opportunity to catch mainstream audiences up on what Cage has been up to.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a pretty okay film in its own right, but those looking to see a delightful bromance between Cage and Pascal and are open to exploring Cage’s lengthy career will get some good laughs and heartfelt nods to one of Hollywood’s most underrated talents.