Look back: Face/Off

It’s hard to believe but it is now 20 years since the release of Face/Off, John Woo’s high concept action film starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage as FBI agent Sean Archer and terrorist Castor Troy respectively, who, through a convoluted plot device, swap faces and trade lives.

In cinemas two decades ago this film was hugely enjoyable, driven by the balletic action sequences and the performances of the two leads. There are plenty of director flourishes for John Woo fans to enjoy: several characters diving through the air while simultaneously firing two guns and of course doves feature heavily in one particular scene, inexplicably not flying away despite the gunfire around them. Not to mention the slow-mo, including the coolest coat swish ever put on film, even if it was an accident.

Watching it now, the film is gloriously preposterous, yet still great fun. It’s one of those films that has almost zero realism but you cannot help but be carried along by it, and that is largely down to Travolta and Cage. I cannot imagine this film working with anyone else in the roles. As fun as the original choices of Stallone and Schwarzenegger would have been, it wouldn’t have stood the test of time as well as it has. Both Travolta and Cage have a great time impersonating each other and sending themselves up, particularly Travolta with “this nose, this hair, this ridiculous chin”.

Face/Off is always worth catching when it turns up on TV. The story and action get the film 2 out of 5 stars, and Travolta and Cage get a star each. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


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