The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Note: I generally do not like to award star ratings to movies. I am adding it here to be within the format. I very humbly request readers and visitors who come to this web page to read my thoughts on this movie in entirety; let’s not limit film criticism to merely giving out stars. I am always in favour of more elaborate discussion on cinema.
Nicolas Cage is one of those 90s Hollywood movie stars who has the most mixed reaction among audiences. He’s hailed for his acting talents, has starred in one of our most beloved action flicks from the 90’s. He has some very praiseworthy performances to his credit. Yet many of his film choices are considered crass. Quite a few of his performances have also tilted towards being more eccentric than necessary. He has also demonstratesd some very borderline awkward demeanours in movies, many of which have been ripe material for internet memes. So, when an actor like him decides to play a much more caricatured version of himself dealing with very real midlife and post stardom crises it seems like a fun premise early on.
To start with, this movie delivers on all the stuff it’s core idea offers. The version of Nick Cage (notice the extra K?) we get to see is very interesting indeed. He is self loathing yet self obsessed. The melancholy of his falling career, falling family life has an affably funny feel to it, there are some good tragicomedy moments there.
He is often visited by a megalomaniac younger alter ego from his heydays “Nicky” who reminds him to focus on being a movie star. Their exchanges are quite a sight.
So, just before he has voluntarily decided to bid adieu to his currently descending but beloved career as an actor, Nick Cage reluctantly takes up an offer worth 1 million dollar to visit an island owned by a billionaire fan of his. The fan Javi Gutierrez has invited Cage to be guest of honour at his birthday party and also asked Cage to read the screenplay of a feature he himself has written. Javi turns out to be a crazy diehard Nick Cage fanboy and a movie buff. Nick and Javi engage in many buddy moments and it’s here that the movie is at it’s best. This movie works best as a buddy comedy. Two guys coming from totally different worlds, one being a sad, disillusioned celebrity/ artist, the other being his most hardcore super fan cum an aspiring screenwriter; the two bonding like they’ve always known each other. There are some intersecting subplots which come by, trying which try to foil this bonding. I really can’t make out if it is done on purpose or the makers were not aware that these bonding scenes would turn out to be so good. Whatever be the reason the intersecting subplots do not mess the buddy scenes at all. As a viewer though I wish there was more of these scenes. Both Nic Cage (the real one) and Pedro Pascal are a delight to watch. The movie otherwise too is massively funny, it gets it’s absurdity very correct.
The third act of the movie though is quite action heavy. And, It’s very understandable because after all, this movie is a celebration of Nicolas Cage’s cinematic legacy, and you just cannot leave out some carefree fun action moments. The guy gave us The Rock, Face/Off and Con Air in his prime, some of the most iconic and insanely fun action flicks of those time. But I do feel the action filled third act came at the cost of cutting down on some of the buddy comedy moments, the aspect which worked the best for me. Although the third act does not derail the movie at all, it keeps the flavour of the movie intact and the rhythm of the movie in synch too.
Apart from the main actors there are also Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz who play spying CIA agents, they get a share on the funny dialogues, are pretty convincing. Sharon Horgan plays Nick Cage’s fictional ex-wife, Lily Sheen plays his fictional daughter, both play the emotional core for Nick Cage quite well. David Gordon Green plays himself in a cameo too.
Overall this the kind of movie which tries a lot of new things and gets most of it correct. It meets it’s unbearable expectations head on, and also manages massively entertaining. Good job by director Tom Gomican. I would pretty much recommend it to everyone. Needless to say, Nicolas Cage fans dare not miss this one.