Nicolas Cage: A national treasure

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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent brings back Nicolas Cage to the big screen – not that he went anywhere – where he plays a (partly) fictionalised version of himself. Aptly named ‘Nick Cage’ in this movie, Nick struggles with his relationships with his daughter and his soon to be ex-wife while also grappling with his declining career and financial struggles. Desperate to make some money, Nick is forced to accept a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of a superfan named Javi. This movie was a lot of good fun, having a great central relationship dynamic that helps to carry this movie. However, it ends up having to delve into the classic pitfall of adding in extra elements to encourage a wider appeal, but it really doesn’t matter how much you acknowledge this and try to make these weaknesses into a type of meta commentary – it’s still going to be generic and boring.

Starting off by showing us the daily struggles of Nick Cage this movie does little to make it stand out. It felt like it was going through the motions, doing what must be done and not really taking any liberties with it. Yes, the introduction is necessary to the movie and in understanding this character, but did they have to make it so generic? I feel like they were really riding on the coat tails of this being a meta movie and how it is Nicolas Cage playing Nicolas Cage, but this really isn’t enough to keep your attention past the first few minutes.

Thankfully, as we get past the introduction, things start to fall into place and everything gets a lot more fun. There are a lot of really hilarious moments, with most of them revolving around the central relationship in this movie between Nick and Javi. Rarely do you get to see a movie exploring male friendship, much less adult male friendship, so it was very nice to watch this really wholesome relationship develop.

There were also a lot of great meta jokes poking fun at the career of Nicolas Cage, enough to make all Cage fans slap their knees. But you don’t even have to be a big Cage fan to enjoy the theatrics as Cage’s performance is all you need to enjoy the dramatics. It’s really impossible to have a bad Nicolas Cage performance as no matter what role he is put into he always gives a 100 per cent. This role was no exception with Cage yet again adding another truly iconic role to his repertoire. Meanwhile, Pedro Pascal as Javi was also just as loveable, stepping up to rival Cage’s performance practically effortlessly.

However, there was this entire spy subplot that ended up becoming the main plot for the third act. I didn’t particularly enjoy this portion of the movie. While it did lead to some good jokes and some humorous sequences, as far as being a captivating plotline, this one failed miserably. They try to excuse this by trying to make it all meta, but all they end up doing is acknowledging that these types of plot lines are bad while making absolutely no attempt to spice it up. They end up bowing down to being generic.

Moreover, this movie had pretty startling similarities to another Nicolas Cage’s film Adaptation which also had a similarly meta storyline with similar ending issues. You’d think with all the similarities of this movie and Adaptation, this movie would at least try to learn from Adaptation’s mistakes or make it feel at least a bit different but it ended up being an even more lackluster ending than Adaptation.

The last act action sequences were also not done very well. They were choreographed quite generically, and I didn’t really feel any tension or suspense during these sequences. I’d have loved to see Cage be really incompetent in these action sequences because the extent of his action experience would have been as an actor through stunts and not through any real fighting experience. But the film just made him more than capable to stand up to actual mafia men, which was very ridiculous. 

At the heart of it all though is the fact that Nicolas Cage is playing Nicolas Cage, and if that isn’t enough to get you to see this movie then you probably won’t enjoy it. If you are a Nicholas Cage fan this is going to be practically required viewing for you and you will not regret it, as despite all its other flaws it was still a pretty enjoyable experience, especially if you have a good audience with you that’s just along for the ride. I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch this movie again, but I certainly wouldn’t be against it.

By Sadira Sittampalam