Nick Cage (Nicolas Cage) has been passed over for one too many roles and, in order to get clear of some debts and to ponder his next career move, he accepts an invitation to go to Spain and meet a superfan (Pedro Pascal) who offers him $1 million to visit. While there, it's revealed that two CIA agents (Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz) are monitoring the superfan who just happens to be an arms dealer...
Nicolas Cage is one of those actors that evades easy categorisation and definition. He's washed-up, his best work is behind him? Wrong. Just look at 'Joe', 'Mandy', or 'Pig'. He just turns up, makes loud noises, and then kicks his feet everywhere or something? What actor can get away with that, and still have the career he has? Even when he's voice-acting like in 'Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse', you still feel the energy reverberating out from behind the screen. All this said, what 'The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent' manages to do is filter all of these conflicting ideas about the actor a sanded-down, more vulnerable version of Nick Cage.
Divorced from our own Sharon Horgan in this parallel universe, Nick Cage is beginning to feel his career peter out and decides to retire before it becomes undignified Before this, he takes an easy appearance gig in Spain where he decides to drown his sorrows in good booze, make some fast money, and in one or two dream sequences, make out with a younger, 'Wild At Heart'-era version of himself. Yes, you read that correctly. Read it again if your brain didn't process it. That's about as weird as it gets in this movie, and despite what you might think, it's actually kind of sweet.
What you see in this movie is an exploration of an actor whose status has almost wounded him to a certain degree, but whose passion for working hasn't flamed out despite giving it everything for nearly four decades. It's a vulnerable thing, and Cage plays it beautifully. Pedro Pascal's superfan is every Cage fan you've ever met, including this very writer. He thinks 'Mandy' is a cinematic masterpiece (it is). He also bought the golden pistols Cage uses in 'Face/Off' (would if I could) and has an entire room devoted to Cage memorabilia (also would if I could). Yet, the fictional Nick Cage seems reticent at first by all this and a script the superfan has written, but then fully engages with it. He starts to eat up his own hype, to a point where it threatens everything and everyone around him.
What could have been a weird, inaccessible ego-trip of a movie quickly turns into a surprisingly sweet action comedy with a cracking dynamic between Cage and Pascal, and a whip-smart script by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten. Undoubtedly, the nature of its production - in the middle of a global pandemic - hobbled some creative choices, but it's nevertheless every bit as enjoyable as it could possibly be. Tiffany Haddish is as comfortable as you'd expect in a comedic environment, and Sharon Horgan is more than capable of holding her own against Cage in any given scene. The comedy flows naturally, and there's more than a few acknowledgements to where cinema and the industry is headed.
Movies about movies tend to rarely have wide appeal, and movies about actors are even more niche. Yet, 'The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent' offers up such an entertaining treat that it really does deserve a far bigger audience than initially might seek it out.