The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Film Netflix
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Nick Cage playing Nick Cage as he channels his iconic characters when he's caught between a superfan and a CIA agent.

There was a time when an actor playing a ‘fictionalised’ version of themself was new and mercurial. It has been done so often nowadays that the success of such an approach rests on the public persona of the person involved. In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent we are talking about a man of whom you can ironically (or not) buy leggings patterned with his face, or sequined ‘surprise’ cushions.

That’s right: Nicolas Cage. Thanks to a recent boom in popularity (buoyed up by outstanding movies like Pig) the time is ripe for a ‘Cage plays Cage’ set up.

What Is The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent About?

Cage (Cage) is going through a tough time. Insecure in his acting ability, turned down for roles, and struggling to connect with his family, Cage is forced to accept a $1 million fee to fly to Majorca and be the guest of honour at the birthday party of the charismatic Javi Gutierrez.

“He’s so hot right now!” breathed Will Ferrell’s character in Zoolander whenever in the presence of booming model / actor Hansel. If Cage is ‘hot’ again, then no-one else is hotter than Pedro Pascal.

The downfall of many a self-referential jape is making the ‘actor playing themselves’ an isolated storm of crippling stardom. By contrast, Cage paired with Javi (Pascal) gives birth to one of the most charming on-screen friendships of recent memory.

They bond over movies. They wish the best for each other. They begin writing a screenplay based on their own sparking connection. It’s adorable, frankly. 

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Trailer

Pascal lights up his scenes by exuding sincerity in his awe of Cage. Their blossoming connection brings out the meme-able moments, and the biggest grins (plus, a Cage memorabilia basement set to keep all easter egg hunters happy).

Things get complicated by the kidnapping of the daughter of a Catalan political candidate, for which the CIA suspect Javi. They recruit Cage to use his newfound closeness to Javi to investigate further.

This is a double-edged sword as it thankfully imposes some structure on the movie, whilst also anchoring it to somewhat predictable tropes.

As matters escalate Cage is called to draw on his experience as an actor to get out of increasingly dangerous situations.

Is The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Worth Watching?

The resultant action-based finale arguably slips too much into standard third act set piece moments: use chutzpah, shoot guns, drive away. Such formula is tempered by (disappointingly few) inner monologues where a crazed but successful younger version of Cage chastises his present self for losing his edge.

Within the groundwork of a story based on an actor such as Cage – who has starred in such a wide range of movies – there feels like ample ground to double down on tongue in cheek ludicrousness or heightened self-referential moments.

What we get instead is something like the sequin cushion of Cage’s face; pretty, but couldn’t you swipe the glitter to reveal the madness beneath?

The pumped-up pre-interview somersault may culminate as missed opportunity, but the crazed roll itself is still plenty of fun. Cage as a vulnerable movie nerd rather than raging egotist is the right tone.

His clinging to past glories with his family (Lily Mo Sheen and Sharon Horgan grounding him nicely) also make for good emotional stakes. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent won’t knock your face off, but memory of it certainly won’t be gone in 60 seconds.

Words by Mike Record


  • Nic Cage And Pedro Pascal Together
  • Fun, Approachable Tone
  • The Drug Sequence


  • Could Have Committed More To The Concept
  • Rather Standard Ending
  • Not Enough 'Crazy' Cage


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