The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent (2022)

Quick synopsis: Unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, actor Nick Cage accepts a $1 million offer to attend a wealthy fan’s birthday party. Sadly this fan turns out to possibly be a drug lord, so the CIA get Cage to spy on the person for them.

Let’s face it, someone like Cage is perfect for this film. He’s not so much as an actor, as he is a living meme at this point. Capable of greatness, or being terrible. You never see a Cage performance and think “he was alright, nothing special”. He’s one of those people who you could hear any story about and believe. “hey, I heard Nicholas Cage slapped a Rhino with a sea bass” “yeah, that seems like something he’d do”.

So a film in which he plays himself, who gets roped into doing an investigation into a suspected drug lord? Perfect. The result? Well it’s not perfect, it is very, very good. It has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, but just not consistently enough to consider it great. Also, there are too many issues which stop it from reaching the next level. What issues? Well I’m glad you asked, and your hair looks great by the way.

Well firstly, a big issue is that this has been done before. An action star who is having family trouble, being caught up in a crime? If you want to see how that’s done, watch JCVD, that’s a superb movie featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme giving (genuinely) one of the best performances you’ll ever see. The other issue is that ONLY Cage is playing himself. I’m okay with Sharon Horgan playing his wife, and there are other similar performances. Put Neil Patrick Harris is too big a name to just play Cage’s agent. When I first saw the trailer I assumed he was playing himself too, and he knew about the wealthy person who liked Cage because he’s been invited to his parties too. But nope, he’s just his agent. I feel it would have made more sense to have it as himself though, would have set Pedro Pascal’s character up as the kind of eccentric rich guy who pays celebrities to hang out with him. I kind of have a similar issue with Pascal, who is definitely too big a name to not known. But overall I’m more okay with that, because he is so much fun in this. He doesn’t normally do comedy, but he should, he has a talent for it, and him and Cage bounce off each other wonderfully.

The other downside? This could go further, it features moments where Cage is interacting with a younger version of himself. It’s a bit weird, happens enough that it is notable, but doesn’t happen enough to make you comfortable. I mean, it’s Cage, this has room to go a lot weirder, and it’s weird how refrained it is. I also have an issue with the fact that the guy we thought was good, turns out to have been good all along, and the actual villain is a guy we’ve seen only once or twice in the film, and then very fleeting.

I know this sounds negative, but I have had to be very nit-picky to make those points. Overall it’s a very fun watch. I’m glad I saw it, and probably will see it again if it’s on streaming services, or I find it cheap at a boot fair or charity shop. As I said before, it is very funny, even if some of those laughs have been ruined in the trailer. The plot makes sense, even when people make stupid decisions, you can understand the logic. It also has actual characters with their own personalities and motivations. This means that when the film aims to be emotional, it actually works.

So yeah, if you get a chance, go see it. But don’t rush out RIGHT NOW. Treat it like a deer, approach slowly and realise you may not see it.

Together (2021)

This is available on iplayer, so if you’re in the UK right now it’s available easily and for free. It’s worth more than that. I actually messaged people before it was over, telling them they need to watch it. The opening is essentially two characters (played by McAvoy and Horgan) arguing with each other via you, so they’re just talking to you about how much they hate each other. So yeah, just two characters talking, that should be incredibly dull, yet the writing and the performances draw you in beautifully.

The way the characters interact is masterful, the genuine anger between them is there for everyone to see, but it’s not cliche anger. It’s not the anger that comes from a misunderstanding, it’s anger that comes from philosophical differences. They have the kind of arguements that long term relationships have, it all feels so real. Amongst that, it is incredibly funny, with some of the best dialogue I’ve heard in a long time. For a stretch of this film I considered this one of the funniest films of the year.

And then it’s suddenly very not.

They start talking about the government response to COVID, about how their inaction led to deaths and the disease spreading out of their control. About how everybody could see the warning signs and the government continued to do nothing. The film becomes less funny, but much more important. It feels like film as a way of protest, as art, as a timepiece of when our government took the worst possible choice in every scenario then wondered why the situation won’t get better. The anger switches at this point. Well, it doesn’t really switch, so much as infect. The anger of the characters start effecting you. You start realising a lot of things. Everything starts connecting in your head and you get incredibly pissed off. But the good kind of pissed off. Not the kind of anger where you need to drink, but the kind of anger where you rise up and shout that shit needs to change. We can’t go on like this, we can’t allow what happened to happen again, and we can’t allow the people who allowed it to happen to continue to act in the way they did. You realise decisions were made for the betterment of their careers and finances, they never gave a shit about human lives or the general economy as long as their personal bank statements grew. As long as their friends companies got given multi-million pound contracts for things they had no experience in, it was acceptable for small businesses, the lifeblood of communities, to fail. It was okay to screw over millions, if they made millions.

I have hated a lot of films before. I have ranted about how much I detested things about certain films. About how the ending ruined it, about how the plot made no sense, about how the film has such an ugly soul that it’s impossible to like. And those films annoyed. But I have never, in my entire life, been as fucking furious as I was when I watched this. And you need to feel that anger. You need to hear some uncomfortable truths. And you need to start questioning a lot of things.

Things are not okay, and it’s up to films like this to help us change that.