"Face/Off" is a 1997 thriller film which was directed by John Woo, who has also directed such films as "The Killer" (1989), "Mission: Impossible II" (2000), and "Red Cliff" (2008).
Warning: Spoilers will likely be given during this review.
The film is 138 minutes in length and stars John Travolta ("Pulp Fiction", "Grease", "Swordfish") as Sean Archer / Castor Troy, Nicolas Cage ("Gone in Sixty Seconds", "National Treasure", "Season of the Witch") as Castor Troy / Sean Archer, and Joan Allen ("The Bourne Supremacy", "Pleasantville", "In Country") as Dr. Eve Archer.
The plot for the film reads as follows: A revolutionary medical technique allows an undercover agent to take the physical appearance of a major criminal and infiltrate his organization.
Take Nicolas Cage and John Travolta and put them in a big budget film directed by John Woo, and what you have is "Face/Off". Travolta was not the first choice for the character of Sean Archer - Jean-Claude Van Damme and Michael Douglas had both been considered, and before Woo landed the directing job, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were also mentioned. It is believed Cage originally turned down the role, but changed his mind. What follows is an all-action film, shot in that trademark John Woo style. Is it any good? Let's find out!
The film starts with Sean Archer on a merry go round with his son, while Castor Troy has a sniper rifle trained on him from afar. He takes aim, hesitates, then takes aim again and fires. The bullet goes through Archer, killing his kid. It is a shocking moment, but one which sets the tone for the duration of the film. There are many memorable scenes during the film, and a continuation from the opening part shows Troy disguised as a priest in a church, dancing and bopping along to the choir arrangement. There is also a nice touch to show his style and class, as he grabs money with a gold dragon clip. The shootout in the hangar is a great action scene, and something I like to see at the beginning of a film because it sets you up for what is to come during the course of the picture.
There is a great scene where Nicolas Cage as Sean Archer visits John Travolta as Castor Troy in prison after escaping from the lab. You know they've swapped faces but Travolta pulls off Castor Troy just like Cage would, and likewise Cage does a great Sean Archer. It is hard to understand at first and while I was typing this paragraph I had to look twice, just in case I put the actors and characters the wrong way around. Troy as Archer goads Archer as Troy by saying he's cut off his existence as an undercover officer and he will now lead his life with his wife and child. You have to feel for the real Archer because you know if he doesn't do something about it, he's spending the rest of his life in prison as someone else.
Another thing of note is the technology that existed during the film, compared to technology which exists today. Take growing an ear in a lab, for example. I wonder if they knew that in the future it really could happen, albeit a slightly different angle when scientists grew ear-shaped cartilage on a mouse - findings which were published in the same year as the film release. The face transplant scene is excellent imagery. Sadly it can't be done as perfect as that just yet, but the technology is available and who knows what those boffins will be capable of in the near future.
I did enjoy the prison escape scene, which was packed with action even if it was a little over the top, but that's what you would expect and welcome with a film like this. Other scenes to single out for praise include one where Cage as Archer has taken a drug cocktail and he sees himself in the mirror. He can't quite understand why he's looking at Castor Troy's face and is highly confused as he contemplates firing his gun. Another great happens when Eve finds out her husband is Troy and Archer is stuck with that face, trapped, seemingly with no way of ever changing that fact.
I find the choice of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" playing over an action scene a strange one, but in the same way it somehow works. The film has plenty of snippets from famous songs, including one on a scene where Cage as Archer is talking to Jamie, Eve and Sean's daughter. He's smoking a cigarette and blows a smoke ring after telling her things are changing around the house, while we hear James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag".
There is a nice touch with the doves in a church at a funeral, which can only be put down to great cinematography and direction. A calm before the final battle scene, if you wish. The speedboat chase at the end has been done with James Bond before in "Live and Let Die". Still, it is another high intensity action scene.
It's hard to point out the two main characters because Cage is Travolta, Troy is Archer, Archer is Troy and Travolta is Cage. It is pretty difficult to put into words the reasoning for not being able to because of the face swap and because Cage has to play a character as Travolta would and vice-versa. Needless to say, both do a pretty good job at portraying each other and it's something that can't obviously have been easy to do.
Nicolas Cage is at his best playing characters that are a little wild, and this is no exception. I often wonder if there is a lot of him in these characters or if they're specifically written for him. Either way we have seen him use that trait in films such as "Snake Eyes" with corrupt cop Ricky Santoro, "Kiss of Death" as Little Junior Brown, and, to an extent, his portrayal of Peter Loew in "Vampire's Kiss". He remains one of my favourite actors of his generation and I always look forward to seeing something new with him in.
John Travolta is the opposite of Nicolas Cage. Where Cage is wired and high-tempo, Travolta is calm and mellow, taking everything in his stride. He's a versatile actor who can play different types of roles, ranging from the energetic parts like Danny Zuko in "Grease", to a calm and methodical hit man as Vincent Vega in "Pulp Fiction", and the slightly over-the-top character of Gabriel Shear in "Swordfish".
It can't have been easy for John Woo to direct a film in which its two main stars swap faces and become each other, but in "Face/Off" we have an action-packed thrill ride which doesn't disappoint. Sure, some of it is a little cheesy and far-fetched here and there, but what action film isn't? "Face/Off" is every bit the film you want if you like films with a unique plot, because it rarely pauses for effect. The Archer / Troy - Troy / Archer conundrum is a little hard to follow, but well worth it... even if you stare at the screen and wonder who's who. I can heartily recommend this film, without a doubt.
What the Critics Say
Rolling Stone: "Exciting and then some, the film blends the director's supercharged images of balletic brutality and spiritual catharsis with an off-the-wall humor that allows John Travolta and Nicolas Cage to really let it rip."
The New York Times: "Before we go numb from such prefab excitement, here comes a mega-movie that actually delivers what mega-movies promise: strong characters, smart plotting, breathless action and a gimmick that hasn't been seen before."
Washington Post: "As an example of the art of casting, the movie is brilliantly engineered. It allows two major stars to each play the showy villain for a time, and also for each to do an imitation of the other."
Variety: "A provocative premise, virtuoso direction and two dazzling lead performances go a long way toward offsetting a lack of dramatic structure and a sense of when to quit in the film"
San Francisco Examiner: "The trouble comes when Woo's patented - that is, oft-repeated - style overwhelms any hope of discerning story or acting through the haze of burning, crashing, bleeding and exploding."
My rating: 8/10
Face/Off was made in 1997, directed by John Woo.The storyline centres around two great actors, Nicholas Cage and John Travolta. Cage plays terrorist and general bad guy Castor Troy who accidentally shot Sean Archers (Travolta) son. Throughout the beginning of the film, Archer is pursuing Castor, and during a shootout, Castor is put into a coma. Though they've got him in custody, they find out that he's planted a bomb in a busy American city that will cause a massive amount of damage, so they need to find out where they have put it. Archer is given a choice to find out the information he needs, at a high price. They offer to use groundbreaking surgery to turn him into Castor Troy so he can go into prison and get the information from Castor's younger brother. It's successful and he gets the information he went in for, but in the meantime the real Castor wakes up from his coma and isn't pleased with his enemy having taken his face. He kills the people who knew about the procedure and uses Archers identity to change lives and use his power to continue his plotting.
This is one of my favourite films. It sounds very complicated from my plot review but it's quiet simple to understand and depite it's complete lack of realism, it's quite a good film. The action shots are great, plenty of explosions and good shoutout/fight scenes which makes it a good action film. It's typical of Woo to have the slow motion action bits but I like the touch of these in a film anyway. The graphics are really good, especially for an older film.
The casting is brilliant. I hadn't seen Nicholas Cage play a bad guy before this and wasn't sure how well it would work becuse I always find him to be a likeable guy in films but he was fantastic. He plays a pyscho almost too well! John Travolta is also quite a flexible actor and plays a good goodie and baddie. I think this was a wise choice for this film as the flexible actors really make the storyline work. The other actors in the film are also really good, but considering the main plot falls around Travolta and Cage, I wasn't too concerned with the more minor roles in the film.
I love the dialogue in this film, I think the quirky comments and humour is great and really allows you to enjoy the film. Despite the unrealistic storyline, it's enjoyable because it's serious but quite funny at the same time.
It's an old film now but it's definitely worth a watch. It's available on Ebay for a couple of pound so give it a try if action films are your thing!
Face/Off is an action film from 1997 directed by John Woo. It stars John Travolta as FBI agent Sean Archer and Nicolas Cage as terrorist Castor Troy who he is pursuing. Following a shootout at an airport, Castor is put into a coma and his brother is arrested, who informs Archer that Castor is planning to detonate a bomb somewhere in Los Angeles. However Troy's brother offers no information about the whereabouts of the weapon and so Archer must somehow locate the bomb before thousands of innocent lives are destroyed.
Archer is approached by governments agents who inform him of a secretive new experimental procedure which may enable him to get information out of Castor's brother. The procedure entails surgically removing both Archer and troy's faces, and grafting Troy's face on Archer's body, whilst also altering his voice and physique. Disguised as Troy, Archer enters the prison where Castor's brother is being held and manages to get the necessary information out of him. However, while all this is going on, Castor has woken up from his coma and once he discovers what has happened, he forces the doctor to put Archer's face on his body and perform the exact same procedure on him. He then kills the few people who have knowledge that the procedure took place and takes on Archer's identity.
Whilst an absurd premise for a film, the lack of believability makes it all the more entertaining. It is certainly not a film to be taken too seriously, and it's tongue-in-cheek manner suggest that the director was certainly not guilty of doing this. It is elevated from the level of your run-of-the-mill 90s action film by the knowledge that both lead characters are not who they appear. Each scene has a deeper level to it, since you are aware that Cage is playing Travolta and Travolta is playing Cage. Both actors relish their roles, playing their characters with great enjoyment, and the rapport between them is excellent. Amidst some moments of rather cheesy action film dialogue, there are some excellent action scenes, particularly Archer's prison breakout and the boat chase scene towards the end. Some trademark John Woo moments are to be seen, most notably the slow motion flying dove in the church shootout scene. I would certainly say this is John Woo's best English speaking film, although it does not match his earlier, more atmospheric films such as Hard Boiled and The Killer.
I would certainly recommend Face/Off to anyone who is a fan of action films or who is just looking for an entertaining film to watch without taking it too seriously. A really enjoyable film with great performances and memorable action scenes. I urge you to watch it.
So as soon as I put the DVD on I knew it had to be a John woo film. Lots of explosions, a needless amount I thouhgt, like if a shopping trolley fell from a high point, it would explode for some reason. Lots of camera gimmicks- flying through the air in slow motion (also allot of this in Broken Arrow) and John Travolta`s in it, and I think he must have some sort of pact with John Woo to cast him in everyting.
Synopsis..Sean Archer is a high up FBI chief charged with bringing down the scourge of law enforement agencies the world over Castor troy. Troy and his brother pollux (some sort of greek reference to this) have basically been going round the world setting off bombs, stealing cash and generally being bad @sses. In a failed attmept at taking out this cop menace, troy accidentily shoots Archers son. So now we have motive for revenge. In responce years later, Sean Archer captures troy in a thouroughly ellaborate shoot out. But troy has one last laugh under his belt, he has planted a bomb and now being knowcked out stone cold cannot and wouldnt anyway give archer the location. So archer signs up to have surgery to have their faces transplanted so he can pretend to go to prison as troy and get the info out of troys brother pollux.
I actually normally look at Nic cage films with great disdain, Nick cage has two types of acting, stong silent type....The rock, con air and the new season of the which, and carzy madman...bad luietenant and this film. I though cage did a better job of mimicing travolta then travolta did on him, but fair play to them both.
I liked seeing travolta in the driving seat in the second half of this film as troy with archers face, tormenting archer as now everyone thinks hes troy languishing in prison. And travolta was throughly depressing as archer, where as cage was brilliant as troy in the 1st half, over acting it , but this works for this character
Lots of slow mo explosions, gimmicks that would have 15 yr old lads saying that looks wicked, like the two golden pitstols and some okey supporting roles from Joan Allen, Alessandro Nivola, Gina Gershon and Dominique Swain (bit of a wierd lolita thing going on) but their characters are all pretty easy to play.
Personally thought broken arrow was better if your a woo fan....or just consider watching a jerry bruckheimer film.
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Sean Archer is a cop who 6 years ago had to hold his son well he lay dying after being shot. Since this time he has spent his life trying to catch Castor Troy, an assassin for his murder but he has not had any luck. Things are hard for Sean and his family as they feel they have lost him as well to his job.
Sean gets a lucky break when he learns that Castor is about to leave the country on a private pane so sets about stopping him. Castor is captured but badly injured and believed dead and so is his brother and other gang members. Sean soon learns that Castor has left a deadly bomb somewhere in the city which will kill all within a 1 mile radius so has to try and get the details out of his brother. Castors brother will not talk and says he will only discuss the matter with Castor as he does not believe he is dead.
Sean is taken to one side and told about a special operation which he can have which will transform him into Castor as Castor is not actually dead but in a coma, after some thought he reluctantly agrees and undergoes the groundbreaking operation and gets inside the prison. Can Castor/Sean convince his brother that it is him and find out about the bomb, how long will Castor be in his coma and will Castor/Sean be able to get his own face back?
There was something about this film which never really appealed to me but I finally gave in and gave it a watch, more so because I like the two lead actors and though they may make it at least watch able. I have to say I found this was thoroughly enjoyable and the storyline was great, if not a little far fetched at time. I was hooked right from the start and found it very interesting to see how the characters dealt with the storyline.
John Travolta played the role of Sean who turned into Castro and he did a super job. I enjoyed seeing him at the start of the film and how he was trying to get revenge for the death of his son, some of the scenes were quite moving and he acted brilliantly in them. He changed when turned into Castro and I was not too keen on him then but his acting was still super. He had a good chemistry with all the actors he worked with and showed what a strong actor he can be. The role of Castro was played by Nicholas Cage and he too did a great job. I was not keen on him when he was Castro as he was very cocky and over the top but he changed when turned into Sean. It is hard to describe their performance really as they did not change but just switched parts, but this was done very well and both actors were believable in both roles.
We had some very good supporting actors including, Joan Allen, Alessandro Nivola, Gina Gershon and Dominique Swain and they were all very good and gave us a good mix and variety of people. I enjoyed the way one side was gangsters who killed and thought nothing of it and the other side of the characters was the hard working and loving family as this made for some good viewing when they got mixed together.
The film was set in America in the late 1990's and I have to say this film has dated very well. I found all of the special effects to be super and the ones when the operations were taking place did have me looking away as they were quite detailed and graphic. There is a lot of action in this film and it all looked good and authentic. I feel this is aimed more towards the male audience but this is still enjoyable by the female market due to the two lead actors. The costumes and sets were all very good and in keeping with the feel of the film.
The music was good and suited the places in which it was used but it was nothing special and not very memorable. It helped with the tensions and emotions of the scenes and especially the actions shots.
As this is a film only review there are no bonus features to speak about. The running time of the film is 138 minutes and for me I found this slightly too long. The first half of the film moved at a good pace but the second half seemed to be dragging and draw out. Felt the film could have easily cut 20 minutes from the end when the men were chasing each other and nothing would have been lost from the overall storyline and I would not have started to loose interest. The film has an 18 rate and I agree with this as it is very violent.
The DVD can be bought for just a few pounds on Amazon and I would say it is worth £5. I am giving this film 4/5 stars and not the full 5 as it started to drag at the end. It is a good action film which has excellent acting and stunts and one for all Cage and Travolta fans.
I have seen a number of movies with Nicholas Cage and John Travolta and like them both in their own ways. They both play good and bad characters. In this movie Face/Off released in 1997, John Travolta and Nicholas Cage are the main two characters in this and they are both good and bad and chronicles the struggle between the two. It does get confusing though but is also equally interesting and original.
The movie was directed by John Woo who is renowned himself for action packed films and this was no exception for me. Having watched a few of his movies I knew that I would be in for a rollercoaster ride and I wasn't disappointed.
John Travolta starts the movie playing Sean Archer who has been in the middle of years of grief following the death of his son. The killer of his son was Castor Troy played by Nicholas Cage. He has evaded capture for some time since he killed and is still at large. Archer is obssessed with bringing him down and making him pay for what he has done. We see in a great opening scene, Archer getting him and leaving him in a coma. However, there are further twists when it's discovered that Troy has hidden a bomb somewhere in Los Angeles and Archer is approached to find it's location. In an elaborate plan he will switch faces with Troy and try to get information out of his brother as to the whereabouts of it. The intention will be then to switch back faces and resume his normal life. However, it's never as easy as that and there are twists and turns along the way and we don't know at times who is the bad guy and who is good.
It really is a great action movie, in no small part thanks to the acting of the two main characters in what, for me is one of their best movies for both of them. They both play each character with such emotions and you really believe in them. John Travolta starts off with morals and Nicholas Cage's character is pure evil. But as things get confused you start to wonder who is good and evil. I found it a riveting and interesting action movie that's one of the best.
Yet another wonderfully pointless, yet totally compelling and watchable action film. Starring the king of aimless action films, Nicholas Cage, and the ever hypnotic John Travolta as two men who end up swapping faces for a while, and are able to lead each other's lives whilst trying to find each other.
The film starts with FBI agent Sean Archer at a fair with his son. He is on a ride. Further away, hitman Caster Troy (Cage) takes a shot at him. The bullet hits Sean and passes through him into his son, killing him.
Years later, and Caster Troy is now a major terrorist who is planning to blow up LA. He's placed the bomb and is leaving. However Sean, who is now looking for his revenge on Troy, is hot on his trail and soon goes after him. Following a thrilling fight at the airport, Caster Troy is apprehended, though he's in a coma. His brother is also arrested and sent to a secret prison.
To find the bomb, Sean agrees to undertake a rare type of treatment. He will have his face removed and have Caster Troy's face put on his body. His body will also be changed to match Troy's. After the operation, Sean is sent to the prison where Troy's brother is incarcerated. He speaks to the brother, who suspects that something is wrong. After a fight, his brother speaks to him and gives him the location of the bomb.
Meanwhile, Troy wakes up from his coma and discovers that he has no face. He has some of his men take the plastic surgeon hostage and then has Sean's face put on his own.
Now the two men have each other's faces. Troy comes to meet Sean in prison, where he informs him (in a wonderful scene) that no one knows about the face change, and that he's going to ruin his life. So Sean must break out and stop him.
This is a ridiculous, but a fabulous idea. Both John Travolta and Nicholas Cage clearly relish playing each others roles. Travolta in particular puts in a truly over the top and hugely fun role as Caster Troy with Sean's face. Nicholas Cage is also able to hold his own, and does a good job as Sean with Troy's face.
Directed by Hong Kong action legend John Woo, the action scenes in this are directed as if they are art, always with a superb soundtrack at any one time. They are so carefully choreographed, yet also so raw, is if unplanned and real. John Woo hasn't had enough job in Hollywood for a man with his skill, and he makes this film a cut above, even if it is totally ridiculous.
When this film first came out it sounded like an interesting concept and a new idea, all they were releasing around that time were remake after remake, and they weren't even making remake's that had flopped years ago they were remaking hits from back then, which ended up doing bad this time round, like The Haunting, The Mist, The Fog....just to name a few. So a new fresh idea was just what the doctor ordered
I was interested to see how well Nicholas Cage and John Travolta would work together. And to my surprise they worked well.
FBI agent Sean Archer has been chasing Troy for years, and finally when they catch him and he thinks its all over there's a deadly secret that they need to know (the location of a bomb), and the only way to do this is for Archer to become him.
The FBI agency comes up with the plan to turn Archer into Caster Troy By graphing Troy's face onto Archer's and infiltrating the terrorist's world to discover the information they need.
As Archer is adjusting to Troy's lifestyle Troy recovers consciousness and realizing he has no face forces the doctors to now put Archers face on him, after which he kills everyone who knew about the face swapping Program so now the only people who know about the surgery is Troy and Archer.
Now Troy is walking around as Archer assuming the role as the FBI agent and living with his wife and kid which is driving Archer mad and on a mission to end this nightmare as quick as he can before he loses his family as well.
The acting in this showed how good an actor you have to be to be able to play the roles that John Travolta and Nicholas Cage played.
Speaking from John Travolta's point of view, he had to play the part of a an all round nice guy working for the FBI with a family to then be the complete opposite but to show the same mannerisms and facial expressions as Castor Troy.
to then go back to being the loving family guy that he was, I mean I don't know about you but if I had to play that part I think I would go mental (good thing it wasn't me then huh).
Usually you play a good guy or a bad guy but in this film you have to be both and that's no mean feat.
I don't really rate many of Nicholas Cage's films, I just think he doesn't pick very good films, but for me this film is one of those films that will leave a mark on him. in a good way.
The writing for this movie was very good and above all clever, to come up with a movie so complex for the plot and the two leading characters,
Mike Werb and Michael Colleary have shown how gifted they are as writers and how original they can be, now all we need is more writing like this and we'll be on our way
This fast pace, hard hitting action movie shows no mercy and gets right down to it taking you on an emotional roller coster going from it being good guys and bad guys to suddenly see the reasoning behind why they are doing what they do.
There are some amazing action scence.
Theres a scene after they have swaped faces they are both looking at each other with guns raised with only a mirror dividing them so they are actually seing the face they wanna kill, I just lived the idea behind it.
John Travolta - Sean Archer/Castor Troy
Nicolas Cage - Castor Troy/Sean Archer
Joan Allen - Dr. Eve Archer
Alessandro Nivola - Pollux Troy
Gina Gershon - Sasha Hassler
Dominique Swain - Jamie Archer
Nick Cassavetes - Dietrich Hassler
Harve Presnell - Victor Lazarro
Colm Feore - Dr. Malcolm Walsh
C. C. H. Pounder - Dr. Hollis Miller
John Carroll Lynch - Walton the Erehwon prison guard
Robert Wisdom - Tito
Thomas Jane - Burke Hicks
Margaret Cho - Wand
Matt Ross - Loomis
I really enjoyed this movie and if your into high energy fast paced action movie then this is it.
Here is an intriguing premise, put legendary action director John Woo alongside Hollywood hunks Nicholas Cage and John Travolta and what have you got? Three men with dodgy haircuts. Well yes and a recipe for an all out action fest!
The concept of the film might sound confusing on surface. Cage plays a terrorist and Travolta plays a cop. Travolta has spent years trying to bring Cage down for the murder of his son, so when he finally captures him, he thinks he can breathe a sigh of relief. That is until the FBI ask him to go undercover for one last mission...ah yes, but that will mean completely restructuring his face and being morphed into the now comatose Cage. Travolta agrees and winds up in a high security prison as Cage, mean while Cage has awoken from his coma and is assuming Travolta's identity and using his face. So basically, the guys have reversed. While Travolta as Cage sets out to uncover a bomb plot, Cage as Travolta sets his sights on Travolta's wife and kid. A battle against time ensues as they go head to head. Get it? Head to head?
The film might come in at over two hours, but Woo keeps the pace at breakneck speed with turbo charged action scenes, classy cuts and his usual selection of high jinx kicks, explosions and gun fun. The film is helped by two strong performances from the leads, both of whom excel as good and bad guys!
For me, the best bits were the set up scenes. Woo takes him time to establish who is who and doesn't let the main story arrive too early. There are some great CGI effects for the face morphing and as to be expected some heavy duty action scenes. Boosted by a top music score, interesting locations and a smart script, this pays off as en enjoyable action thriller. Worth checking out.
I've been waiting a long time to see this film. I bought it from Amazon nearly a year ago, but when I finally got round to watch it, I found the DVD was broken, and the 30 day returns policy was finished. Needless to say, I was gutted (although I've learnt my lesson and now check any DVD I've bought immediately!) and had to throw it away. I ended up not getting a new copy until Christmas, and only managed to watch it last week. It was, however, well worth the wait.
The story begins with the killing of FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta)'s infant son by the notorious terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage). Archer works at catching Troy for the next six years, and in the eventual confrontation, he finally manages it. With Troy in a coma as a result, Archer believes his son's death has finally been avenged, and prepares to transfer to a no-risks-involved desk job. Unfortunately for him, it soon becomes apparent that Troy has planted a super-powerful bomb somewhere in L.A., and the only one who knows where it is is Troy's brother, Pollux (Alessandro Nivola), currently locked up in a high-security prison. In a revolutionary procedure, Archer switches faces with Troy, and effectively becomes him, in order to infiltrate the prison and find out where the bomb is. Only a few people know about the top-secret operation, and when Troy comes out of his coma to find he has no face, he assumes Archer's identity and murders everyone who knows about the switch. Then, with Archer trapped in prison, Troy begins to ruin Archer's life and everything he holds dear.
This plot, which looks totally implausible on paper, actually works extremely well in practice, which shows the talent of its writers, Mike Werb and Michael Colleary, and its director, John Woo. It is also made so believable by the talents of the lead actors, John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. The pair effortlessly switch roles, adopting each other's character's mannerisms and personality to leave the audience in no doubt over who is the good guy and who is the bad. Nicolas Cage is one of my favourite actors (actually the reason I bought this film!), and he rarely disappoints, and he positively shines in diverse roles like this. His switch from womanising, homicidal maniac Castor Troy to loving, dedicated family man Sean Archer is spot on, and an absolute joy to watch. John Travolta, on the other hand, is an actor who I don't really know much about, having hardly seen any of his work (no, I'm not really into movies like Grease...), however he also performed excellently as both characters, with his portrayal of Castor Troy chilling at times.
The range of emotions this film gives you is massive. It really isn't your typical action movie, making you (or at least me) laugh, cry and yes, occasionally cringe, throughout. One of the most thought provoking aspects is watching Troy become a slightly better person through his interaction with Archer's family, whilst at the same time, Archer begins to lose control and become more like Troy. It leaves you at times unsure who to root for, and at other times, threatens to make your brain implode with the sheer complexity of it all, although I assure you, this is a good thing.
The film is so fast-paced that the long (133 minutes) runtime didn't bother me at all, although personally I do enjoy long movies, but whilst the plot moves quickly, it isn't too difficult to keep up with.
Obviously, no film is perfect, and Face/Off does have its bad points. Thankfully though, these are few and far between. It is at times slightly confusing, I must admit, although this is to be expected, with its implausible-yet-somehow-plausible plot, and Woo made a great job of keeping the confusion to a minimum. Also, it is very violent, and there is a lot of strong language, hence the 18 certificate. Although this violence doesn't really bother me - there isn't a lot of gore, aside from the scene with faceless Nicolas Cage - I know that there will be a lot of people that are put off by this side of the film.
Woo has created a masterpiece: some of the greatest movie moments are contained within this film. Watch it and look out for the mirror scene. I don't want to give any more of the plot away here, but it was just awesome. The motorboat chase near the end was also brilliant, and you are kept guessing as to who will win right up to the final moments. At its heart, Face/Off is the classic tale of Good vs. Evil, but it shows better than most that between the two, there are many shades of grey.
I can't recommend Face/Off highly enough, so if you are a fan of loud, fast-paced action movies with plenty of guns and fight scenes, or generally just enjoy good, well written and directed films, or if, like me, you just really, really like Nicolas Cage (although even if he hadn't been in it I'd still have loved this), then this is the film for you.
After John Woo's inauspicious first attempts to crack Hollywood (Hard Target and Broken Arrow), hopes were high for Face/Off, an unabashed blockbuster starring Nick Cage and John Travolta at the absolute height of their box office fame. Cage was still riding high on the back of his Leaving Las Vegas Oscar, and John Travolta hadn't frittered away the respect he won back with Pulp Fiction - yes, this was released BEFORE Battlefield: Earth.
Was the hype justified? Is it ever? But whatever your view of the film, it is certainly a police thriller with a difference...
Before the opening credits are over, we are presented with a study in total evil; Nicholas Cage with a scary moustache. Pausing only to slurp a milkshake, Cage disrupts a revoltingly twee funfair by gunning down an American hero (tm) and his angelic son with a single bullet.
The gunman looks slightly distraught at killing the little boy, perhaps realising he's just consigned himself to a bloody fate in the final reel, to atone for his lousy aim.
Fast forward a few years and we find Super Cop John Travolta obsessively pursuing this terrorist, despite the fact that I'm almost certain there's laws specifically forbidding officers pursuing cases with this degree of personal involvement.
Anyhoo, for fairly contrived reasons, Travolta feels the need to switch identities with Cage. He soon regrets it, however, as the terrorist takes over his job and his life. There's nothing for it but to embark on a spectacular series of set-piece action sequences, many in slow-motion.
John Woo's first real Hollywood hit has the advantage of everyone remembering it as being better than it actually is. Let's start by listing its good points. First, John Travolta shines when playing the terrorist, Castor Troy, a calculating psychopath, captivating in his ruthlessness. This is definitely the more interesting character of the two, as both actors are utterly forgettable as the pathetic cop.
Then there are the fantastically-choreographed action sequences. Cage's escape from jail using a single cigarette is particularly impressive, as is the church gunfight towards the end. John Woo truly understands the effects that icons and symbolism can have on an audience, even bizarre and pointless symbols like his dove fetish. The shot of the doves walking before Travolta is impressive and striking, even though it's a mystery why the birds of peace should be heralding the mother of all firefights.
To contrast, there are three major problems with this film, aside from the laughably flimsy plot. The first is Nicholas Cage. Cage excels at looking effortlessly cool, and at looking bewildered. And that really is just about it. His whining is irritating, and his occasional existential crises are unconvincing. Cage is too much of an interesting actor to play such a dull character for the majority of the film.
The second major problem concerns those apparently marvellous action sequences. It only takes a couple of viewings to realise that this film's characters are firing guns while doing backflips simply because it looks cool, rather than through any real desire to actually shoot their enemy or evade hostile fire. Take the church sequence, for example. The camera suggests that Cage has a clear line of sight on Travolta. Cage lets loose a couple of wild shots then, rather than aiming properly, performs an elaborate evasive somersault. Despite the fact that no one's shooting at him! I hesitate to accuse a director of Woo's status of sloppy editing, but this is almost as glaring as Broken Arrow's continuity errors.
The final serious issue that I have with this film is the ending. Apart from being stupidly saccharine for such a violent film, the implications are quite unpleasant: 'Let's bypass the grieving process by replacing our dead child with an identical little boy.' Even the deadpan line, 'Dad, I'm sorry I shot you,' can't detract from the morally dubious taste left by all that.
True, this film has some great stunts (Cage's leap into the sea stands out in particular) and nice moments (the Church stand-off subverts Tarantino gleefully), but these can't redeem a script where credibility has been stretched far beyond breaking-point, and the fact that I was constantly hoping that Castor Troy would win must speak volumes about the general standard of characterisation.
Most people will love this film on first viewing, and only notice the glaring inconsistencies later on, so I wholeheartedly recommend it as a rental DVD, or if you happen to catch it on TV one night. Don't pay more than a fiver for it, though.
You may think you've seen this review before. A few years ago, before I joined Dooyoo, someone set up an account in my name and illegally cross-posted a lot of my film reviews from Epinions. Dooyoo deleted the user, but not the reviews (this was actually quite naughty of them), and I am gradually re-posting them under my own name as and when I stumble across them. Suffice it to say that this review is entirely my own work, wherever you might first have read it.
Face/ off is a fantastic thriller movie about an FBI agent and a terrorist Villain of the movie. The FBI agent is Sean Archer, played by John Travolta. The terrorist is Castor Troy, and at the start of the film we see him being captured. However there is a problem, before being locked up he has already planted a bomb somewhere and wont tell of its whereabouts.
The films title face/ off then refers to when the FBI agent undergoes the latest surgery to swap faces. The two enemies swap faces in hopes that they will be able to find out where the bomb is from Castor Troys younger brother however when Castor Troy manages to get out of prison and kills the only people who know about the secret operation, Sean Archer, who looks like Castor in every way is locked up instead.
I think the plot of the movie is very good, it is of course a bit far fetched that a face could be swapped so easily, however it is a movie and it does allow for a good story line. The acting is great all the way through, in particular the actor who plays the mad man Castor.
If you like your thriller, action packed movies then this is one for you, great storyline, great acting and there's never really a dull moment in this one, really enjoyed it.
Running time 138 minutes
Face off is a tale of 2 enemies 1 is Sean Archer who is and fbi agent.The other is Castor Troy a super terrorist intent on causing hell.For years Archer has been trying to catch Troy and finally gets his opportunity,and catches Castor Troy much to his relief.However there is a problem before he was put into his unconscious state Castor planted a bomb somewhere in L.A .Only he and his younger paranoid brother no the whereabouts of the bomb. After failing to find out where it is the F.B.I come up with an operation which involves Sean Archer and Castor Troy swapping faces.Using the latest technology Sean archer has to become Castor Troy and go in prison to try and find out where the bomb has been planted.The operation is kept so secret and only 4 people including Sean know about it.
Whilst undercover though Castor wakes up and discovers what has been done to him , he then becomes Sean Archer and destroys all evidence the operation took place.Will the real Sean Archer be able to escape prison and get his identity back before Castor Troy destroys his life,and causes chaos with his new found F.B.I power.
Wow is the first word that comes into my head, you have two brilliant actors in excellent roles with the John woo directing.The action scenes are explosive and all trademark of John Woo's style with some explosive 1 on 1 gun fights and a surreal scene involving,Gang members police small children ,machine guns,all along to the song 'somewhere over the rainbow'.The plot is full of twists and turns and will keep you on the edge of your seat ,unlike most action films the storyline is incredible and the actors are brilliant having to completely change their roles throughout the film swapping between good guy and bad guy.
The visual effects are very good and don't give the film to much of an artificial feel , they are not over the top or anything and fit around the storyline perfectly.The fight scenes also look very professional not to cardboard and choreographed like many action films.
What i like about this film is that it is a non stop action film but it has depth to it , the characters have a point , a background story and a reason to fight each other for, its not just 2 beefed up guys fighting over a magic duck with over the top cgi sequences.This film really will adsorb you with the storyline .
I brought this for £4 pound about 5 years ago so i assume you can pick it up very cheaply nowadays and i highly recommend that you watch this.Even if you are not a fan of the genre or either of the actors i guarantee you will enjoy this film.
Let me start by saying that I am a girl, so often like girly, romantic, soppy films, and most things in the Disney catalogue. This, on the other hand, is nothing like those types of films and yet I still found it excellent, so don't be put off by the fact that it is most definitely in the action genre, if you don't normally go for that type of film.
The film starts with a really quite harrowing scene, in which terrorist/general bad guy Castor Troy is trying to kill FBI Agent/general good guy Sean Archer, by shooting him from a distance. What makes this harrowing is the fact that Sean is on a carousel with his young son, and while he is in fact shot, the bullet passes through him without doing too much harm, but fatally wounds his little boy. This scene is very necessary for the rest of the film, as it explains why Sean Archer is such a grouch most of the time, and why he is so desperate to bring Castor Troy to justice.
The rest of the film takes place 6 years after Sean's son Michael's death, with an operation to arrest Castor Troy. They learn that Pollux Troy, Castor's brother, has paid for the use of a private plane, and so, on a hunch that wherever Pollux is Castor is sure to be, Sean orders a team of agents, including himself, to intercept the plane and capture the Troys. Sean is absolutely determined to stop the plane, and will not let anything stand in his way. Even when the plane actually begins o take off he jumps in a helicopter and pursues it, bringing the helicopter down on the wing, and forcing the plane to make a crash landing. Castor escapes into a building, and he and Sean both try to shoot each other. Finally, Castor is, supposedly, killed, and Sean thinks that the nightmare that has been the past 6 years is finally over, and that his son's killer has been brought to justice. He goes home (where his teenage daughter is struggling to find an identity and her place in the world) and tells his wife that everything is going to be better, that he will get a desk job, go to counselling, and spend more time with her and their daughter Jamie. She is thrilled and relieved, as you get the impression that she has had to put up with a lot over the last 6 years. The next day, however, Sean is told that they have found out that a massive bomb of Castor's doing is going to go off somewhere in LA, but they don't know when or where. A couple of Agents know that Castor is alive, and have come up with a plan to get information off Pollux Troy, who was captured and put into prison. Cutting edge technology will allow Castor and Sean's faces to be removed and for Castor's face to be transplanted onto Sean's head. That way he will be able to go into the prison and talk to Pollux. Sean is horrified, and wants no part of it. He insists he can make members of Castor's old gang talk, and does manage to get a date out of one of them, but is unable to discover the location of the bomb. He really doesn't want to look like Castor Troy but eventually agrees to the operation. He goes home and tells his wife he is going on one more mission and then everything will be finished. She is disappointed, and angry, as she thought it was all over. Sean goes through with the operation, which as well as transplanting the face, also changes his body so that it looks like Castor's. He is horrified at his appearance, but is reassured by the select few people that know of the mission that it will only be for a couple of days. He is taken to the prison, where noone is informed of the true situation. He soon finds Pollux, who, being a paranoid sociopath, is a bit suspicious of his 'brother' but he is convinced by him, and makes a comment about the location of the bomb. Sean is thrilled and thinks that soon everything will be all over and he can have a normal life.
Meanwhile, Castor has woken up from the coma that doctors thought he would remain in, and has discovered that he no longer has a face. Sean's is being kept at the medical centre, so he arranges for a couple of henchmen to grab the doctor that performed the operation on Sean, and make him make Castor look like Sean. He then kills the doctor, and the Agents who knew of the mission, so that everyone else will think that he is the real Sean Archer. He then arranges a visit to the prison, where he has a meeting with a visibly shocked Sean, and frees his brother. Sean is horrified. Noone knows who he is, he is trapped in a high security prison, and he has no way of contacting anyone that might be able to help him. From then on he embarks upon his own mission to escape from prison and kill Castor Troy once and for all, before he can finally enjoy a more stable life with his family. But, of course, none of that will come easily, and the action really hots up with gun battles, chases, etc. The action is enough to keep action fans happy, and the plot is also very well written and well acted.
Nicholas Cage and John Travolta are well cast in the lead roles. Although Cage is the original bad guy, for most of the film he plays the hero, and is better suited to this role. In fact, I've heard that he first turned the film down as he didn't want to play a villain, and only accepted it after being assured that for the majority of the film he would be playing the good guy. I won't spoil the ending of the film, but I felt it was well written and quite touching. Although an action film, this film also had a considerable feel good factor.
** Summary ** (contains some spoilers!)
Sean Archer (John Travolta) is a very tough and rugged FBI Agent, who has a slightly unhealthy obsession with a particular criminal by the name of Castor Troy (Nicholas Cage).
We find out the Troy and Archer have had a long relationship, which culminated in Troy accidentally shooting Archer's son, Michael, when he was trying to shoot Archer. This is the thing that has made Archer hell-bent on catching Castor Troy.
Early on in the film it seems as if Archer will get his wish, as he manages to corner Troy and eventually, after a gun battle, kill him. You know that that cant be all there, and you'd be right. They find out that Troy planted a chemical bomb somewhere in the city of Los Angeles, and they need to find out where it is to stop it. Troy has a brother called Pollux who is the only other person to know where the bomb is however he will only speak to Castor ... the big problem there being Castor Troy is dead.
There is a solution, a special government project that enables people to "swap" faces (actual skin... ick!). This would enable the only man to know Castor Troy better than anyone else to infiltrate Pollux Troy and get the location of the bomb... yep, Sean Archer! So yes, Castor Troy is not in fact dead, but being kept alive on various machines. Archer takes a bit of convincing but after a while he goes along with it, one of the problems being that no-one can know what is taking place.
Whilst Sean Archer is trying to get Pollux Troy to talk, somehow Castor Troy wakes up and gets the doctor to give him Archers face. And so, havoc ensues!
** My Opinions **
I absolutely love this film. I have watched it so many times since it was released that I know exactly what is going to happen, but despite that I cant wait for it. That, to me, is a sign of a great film. It could so easily of gone wrong, relying on special effects, there are plenty of opportunities when this could of happened. However, they have taken to relying on two fantastic actors, John Travolta and Nicholas Cage. Both actors have to play both parts of Sean Archer and Castor Troy, and both actors do a sterling job. I do think they both enjoyed playing Castor Troy more, but lets face it, who wouldn't?!?
The story is a tad far fetched but I, like many, sometimes love watching a film that takes me away from the mundane and entertains me more than anything. This film certainly does that.
One of the scenes (out of many) that stand out to me is one of the shooting scenes, where "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is played. It is actually really pretty, of a shoot-out can ever be seen as that.
In conclusion, this is a film everyone should see at least once in their lives!
At his best, director John Woo turns action movies into ballets of blood and bullets grounded in character drama. Face/Off marks Woo's first American film to reach the pitched level of his best Hong Kong work (Hard-Boiled). He takes a patently absurd premise--hero and villain exchange identities by literally swapping faces in science-fiction plastic surgery--and creates a double-barrelled revenge film driven by the split psyches of its newly redefined characters. FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) must play the villain to move through the underworld while psychotic terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) becomes a perversely paternal family man, while using every tool at his disposal to destroy his nemesis. Travolta vamps Cage's tics and flamboyant excess with the grace of a dancer after his transformation from cop to criminal, while Cage plays the sullen, bottled-up agent excruciatingly trapped behind the face of the man who killed his son. His attempts to live up to the terrorist's reputation become cathartic explosions of violence that both thrill and terrify him. This is merely icing on the cake for action fans, the dramatic backbone for some of the most visceral action thrills ever. Woo fills the screen with one show-stopping set-piece after another, bringing a poetic grace to the action freakout with sweeping camerawork and sophisticated editing. This marriage of melodrama and mayhem ups the ante from cops-and-robbers clichés to a conflict of near-mythic levels. --Sean Axmaker