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REVIEW: “THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT” (2022) Lionsgate

The Man. The Myth. The Legend that is Nicolas Cage.

If “THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT” had been made with and about anyone other than Nicolas Cage, it probably wouldn’t have worked. That being said, it is and it does. The film was written to highlight some of Cage’s best moments in his career, leaving the viewer with Easter eggs galore. Director Tom Gormican, who wrote the film as well, along with Kevin Etten, takes the direction of the film and taps into the action genre while still being a true comedy. And then, just when you think it’s just a comedy, it switches gears into a crime drama, and then just when you think it’s a crime drama, it shows it’s heart and gives us the family moments. This film is truly candy for your soul.

The premise is pitch perfect with Nick Cage (Nicolas Cage), realizing his life is a mess not just personally, but professionally and biggest of all, financially. So he accepts a crazy one million dollar offer from his agent Richard Fink (Neil Patrick Harris), to attend the birthday party of super-fan Javi Guiterrez (Pedro Pascal). Javi is either his best friend or a villain, and we are not sure which for some time, and there-in lies the bromance fun. Nick somehow winds up being recruited by Vivian (Tiffany Haddish), and Martin (Ike Barinholtz), and working for the CIA to find a kidnapped young girl.

If you love whacky and crazy then Nic Cage and Massive Talent is the film for you. Between this fictionalized version of the star and the younger Moonstruck/Peggy Sue got Married version he sees in his head, the references to the actor’s past films fly left and right. To be clear, this is a downright crazy-fun, goofy movie and everyone involved knows it, which is all part of it’s charm. Cage isn’t the only one taking this film by storm as the scene stealer here is Pascal, who is delightfully charming as the purported cartel kingpin. Pascal’s portrayal of Javi is so over-the-top fun, as he doles out his fandom praise onto Cage at every turn, ensnaring the persona of the actor into every part of his orbit, including the big reveal at the end. Adding in tons of side plots like that of Javi’s brother Lucas Guiterrez (Paco León), and even a romantic sidebar with Gabriela (Alessandra Mastronardi), adds to the film as it never stops moving and making it all work together.

With a supporting cast of Tiffany Haddish and Neil Patrick Harris backing you up, it would be hard for them not to add to the fun, and they do in their key supporting roles. Sharon Horgan is the perfect opposite for Cage, playing his ex-wife Olivia, and Lily Mo Sheen as his daughter Addy Cage, whose whole life has been playing second fiddle to her dad’s career. But it’s the chemistry between our two leads Cage and Pascal, playing off each other that is nothing short of brilliant and  whom deliver it all in one fail swoop of comedy, drama, action, and family combined.

The cinematography brings you to the gorgeous paradise of the film’s setting as the story is incredibly self absorbed and is essentially a film about film where they talk about making a film and maybe will make a film. It has its slower heart-felt moments, but they are timed perfectly and never boring, as it then it flips the script and hits you with belly laugh-worthy bouts of comedy, and true action. For as strange a film as this is, Gormican brings it all together and has everyone playing ball for the same team. Massive Talent is a tight, albeit almost looney film that works from beginning to end. It’s good original fun and goes to show audiences that in order to make a great movie – you do not need to be from the Marvel/DC Universe or more than two hours to be an excellent film. Seems as though all you really need is Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal.

Grade: A+

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Review screening: Tuesday, April 7, 2022 ~ courtesy of 42West PR/Lionsgate

“THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT” FROM LIONSGATE IS OUT IN THEATERS FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2022

Review: “WITHOUT REMORSE” (2021) Amazon Studios

Based on the Jack Ryan universe created by spy novelist extraordinaire Tom Clancy, “WITHOUT REMORSE” focuses on one of the most popular characters in the saga: John Kelly aka the future John Clark, as he gets his own origin story here from writers Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples, directed by Stefano Sollima.

The films opens with a big action soaked scene of a hostage rescue in Aleppo, Syria, with Senior Chief John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan,) as part of a Navy Seal team, on what is clearly supposed to be a easy in and out hostage rescue. But of course it doesn’t go as planned and the recourse of what happens here, ends up changing John Kelly’s life forever. Fast forward after the attack gone wrong, John finds himself back at home in Washington D.C. happily awaiting the birth of his first child with his wife Pam (Lauren London), when they are attacked, leaving him badly wounded, while Pam and his unborn child are killed.

The attack, by a team of Russian assassins is payback and now John wants revenge, but the bureaucratic response from the higher ups at the Department of Defense and CIA agent Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell), gives it a no go. In steps Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay (Guy Pearce), who seems willing to blur the lines somewhat given what John has gone through, and we have the greenlight for John to be part of the team to go in to this time capture ex-Spetznaz agent Victor Rykov (Brett Gelman), although not without some hesitancy from his Commander and friend Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith). All the while, this has been more John seeking justice for the murder of his pregnant wife, but it seems while wanting to do so, he has uncovered what is truly at hand, a covert plot that threatens to engulf the United States and Russia in an all-out war. Of course, things go once again upside down and the rest of the film turns into more of a personal payback mission for John.

The film, which also already has a second part on the way ~ courtesy of a mid-credits scene – updates and changes drastically not only the origin of the character, but the original plot of the story as well, which ends up giving us the feeling like it’s been seen a thousand times before. Not only because he is a military man who seeks revenge for the murder of his family, but also because he rekindles that been there – done that – conflict between the United States and Russia. While the hunt for the Russians keeps throwing our hero into explosive situations, ultimately revealing who the real villain is (to no one’s surprise) is part of the predictability process that is so very well….predictable. It’s the kind of tedious thriller where you spot the villain instantaneously, and realize who the backstabber is without even trying to. The one high point of it all for those who follow this character in Clancy novels, is this is also the telling of how John Kelly became John Clark and it’s moments like that that give it the much needed elevation we all wanted. Sadly, it’s brief, but boy can it be taken from here and really have something special come out of it, well we will have to just wait and see, as the action was decent and well as the acting.

On it’s good side, Jordan is a born action star and if this film is a hit, and future scripts possibly revamped, it could be a major franchise. Jodie Turner-Smith does well enough and all this flack that a woman can’t be a SEAL is just silly. It has been great seeing Guy Pearce come back to the big screen as well, he played his part perfectly, and look forward to having more of him in the future. The true error in all this is the book would have been ideal as an 8 part mini series. There is so much to explore and it could have set up a whole Clark universe with new stories being set in the 80’s, 90’s and beyond, you can’t help but think. So. Much. Potential.

C-

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Review Screening: Courtesy of ~ Ginsberg/Libby PR

“WITHOUT REMORSE” is available on Amazon Prime Friday, April 30, 2021