Skip to main content

Dumb concepts sometimes make great movies: Face/Off

Good/Bad Bad/Good
Paramount Pictures

It's amazing how such a dumb concept could make such a good movie. Take for example Face/Off. Ok, so basically this is how it goes... I'm gonna take your face off and put it on mine and go undercover to figure out where you're hiding a bomb, but wait... you wake up and steal my face and infiltrate my life as well! Now I'm you and you're me. Ya sounds pretty lame doesn't it? While in reality it couldn't be anything farther from lame, in fact it's kind of awesome.

Face/Off is a 1997 film directed by John Woo and stars Nicholas Cage and John Travolta who both end up playing the bad and the good guy throughout the course of the film. Sworn enemies, one terrorist and one FBI agent, they eventually take the physical roles of each other in a non-stop action, bang bang, shoot em up exuberant film.

The film begins with Castor Troy (then Nicholas Cage) attempting to kill Sean Archer (then John Travolta) but accidently shooting his son instead. Obsessed for vengeance, FBI good guy Travolta hunts down and eventually captures Troy. After a rain of fire on one another, Travolta believes that he has killed his nemesis... but little does he know Troy survived the attack.

After learning that Troy survived the attack a new piece of information is thrown at good guy Travolta, that being that Troy has a bomb hidden somewhere in Los Angeles. Travolta reluctantly agrees to undergo a futuristic surgery which will graft his face and body into that of his now comatose nemesis. Leaving his face floating in a tank, he infiltrates a prison in hopes to discover the location of the bomb via the help of Troys accomplices. Sounds easy enough, right? Now here comes the hook, line, and sinker...director Woo reels us right in when Archer wakes up pissed off to find that he doesn't have a face. With the help of some of his goons he too undergoes surgery to transform into that of good guy FBI agent Archer. After a successful surgery he kills everyone who knows the secret leaving it just him and now good guy Troy in a battle for one another.

Deceptions after deceptions lead to the two men living each other’s lives with the two imitating each other the best they can leaving their friends and families in the dark as to what is happening.

Face/Off holds some of the most agressive action scenes to hit the big screens of the 90's. Take for instance the mirror scene where the two men are on both sides of a mirror looking at themselves, but not really. Identity crisis? Freud, help us please!

Although talking this movie up and up is fine and dandy, Face/Off still definitely shouldn't be taken too seriously. If you can just take it for what it is, you'll be just fine. It trumps any of the new late 2000's 'action' movies a million times over.