IANS Review: ‘The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent’: On-screen chemistry of Pascal and Cage keeps this film afloat

Los Angeles : Don’t let this film’s unwieldy title repulse you, for at its core, the film is a self-deprecating comedy that will keep you entertained. Here, Nicolas Cage plays a fictional version of himself as a tense, anxiety-prone fading star who is now in massive debt. With his professional and personal life in the doldrums he is at the end of his teeters when his agent, Richard (Neal Patrick Harris), informs him that Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), a rich fan of his from Mallorca, Spain is willing to pay him one million dollars if he shows up at his birthday party. Desperate, Nicolas accepts the offer and lands in Spain with the hope that he would do his bit and be gone in a jiffy. But eventually, he and Javi end up forging a warm bond between them. Their bro-time is foiled by CIA agents Vivan (Tiffany Haddish) and Martin (Ike Barinholtz), who intercepts Nicolas and ropes him in to spy on his benefactor after telling him that Javi is a mobster who has kidnapped a politician’s daughter.

Reluctantly Nicolas takes up the CIA assignment, only to soon realise that all is not what it seems on the surface. The plot is fairly scattered, with a gentle satire of Hollywood and a perfunctory series of scenes where Cage tries his hand at spy-craft. Besides the buddy-action comedy between Nicolas and Javi, there are scenes of a cynical, egotist father trying to reconnect with his daughter Addy and estranged wife, Olivia. Also, with Nick loaded on LSD, we get to see another version of Nick Cage, a much younger persona with a poorly CGI-de-aged skin, who pops up repeatedly to boost the ego of the protagonist Nick. Cage tries hard to be funny, poking fun at himself and revelling in his reputation for living life on excesses. With a poker face, he oscillates between a bewildered straight man and an intense meme-self, a contrast that feels more natural than it sounds. Nevertheless, he is all-consuming. Pedro Pascal is brilliant as well.

He brings warm and gleefully appealing energy to his ‘mega-fan’ role. It is not hard to believe his charming character in this insane plot. The best scenes in the film are the moments of unapologetic and shared admiration between Pascal and Cage. They have an absurd yet appealing on-screen chemistry. Together with their sense of comic timing and ability to deliver, dialogues that are genre-savvy without sounding manipulative are amazing. Other performances that stand out are by Sharon Horgan and Lily Mo Sheen. They both bring grace and heart to their roles with natural ease. Overall, the film is an action film with a fabulous dose of humanity in it. Also, it has enough bits of escapism made for fans of Mr Cage that even if you are not in on his shenanigans, you will certainly find something cool with this one.

 

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