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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
It's not what it appears to be on the surface, but Nicolas Cage's ability to poke fun at his own onscreen persona makes 2022's The Unbearable weight of Massive Talent a unique screen experience that not only holds appeal for fans of the star but for true film buffs as well.

The film opens with a young foreign couple watching Con-Air and being fascinated by its star when some thugs burst into their home and kidnap the girl. The film then moves to Hollywood where we meet the Oscar winner, in desperate straits about his career and hoping to get the starring role in a very important movie. Shortly after learning that he didn't get the role, he receives an invitation from a super fan named Javi to entertain at a party. Upon his arrival in South America, Cage strikes up a friendship with Javi just as he's informed by the CIA that Javi is a wanted arms dealer and it is Javi's bosses who kidnapped his daughter.

Director and co-screenwriter Tom Gormican is to be applauded for a richly complex screenplay that is not so complex that it confuses the viewer. First of all, it is important to know that the Nicolas Cage at the center of this story is a fictionalized version of the actor. Yes, his career is heavily referenced, but the personal life of the actor is fictionalized, probably the only way to get the actor to agree to do the film. The film does reference some of his most famous movies though. In addition to Con-Air, the screenplay does provide knowing winks to The Rock, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, and Face/Off among others. There is also a brilliant homage to his Oscar-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas.

What I didn't see coming and what became the emotional center of the film is the relationship that develops between Cage and Javi. Javi's obsession with Cage comes off as sincere but never dangerous. Loved that every time Cage and Javi got in a tight spot, Javi would reference something from one of Cage's movies to get them out of it. LOVED when Javi showed Cage his museum of Cage movie trivia, including a giant wax figure of Castor Troy, pointing his golden weapons. We even get a couple of appearances from Cage's conscience, also played by Cage and billed as Nic, who provides advice and strength for our hero. I wouldn't have minded twenty more minutes of screentime if it had been devoted to Nicolas and Nic. I also liked the way Cage allowed the story to remind us that he's a little too old to do the kind of action roles he used to do.

Gormicon was afforded a huge budget for the film and it's all up there on the screen. Cage appears to be having a ball here and he is perfectly complimented by the utterly charming Pedro Pascal as Javi, absolutely lighting up the screen. Cinematography and music are the final touches on this surprisingly solid comic fantasy that doesn't promise what it originally seems to, but provides some surprising answers that are well worth waiting for.