John Woo fought for full creative control of Face/Off, and thank God that he got it, because this film is an action classic.
In the beginning we find that Castor Troy [Nicolas Cage], while trying to kill Sean Archer [John Travolta], fails and instead kills Archer’s son, Micheal.
We fast forward a few years, and to no surprise, Archer has made Troy his entire career and life. Well, today’s the day. They’ve got a big tip that Troy is going to be at an airfield, ready for take-off very soon. On the flip side, we see Troy at the L.A. Convention Center setting a massive bomb, that’s due to go off in about a week. Afterwards, he heads to the airplane and regroups with his cohorts and younger brother, with whom he’s very close. Upon boarding, he immediately get’s super creepy with the attendant, asking her if he let her suck his tongue, would she be grateful. Honestly, if he said suck my dick, I’d have found that a lot less creepy. I always find asking strange girls to suck something leads to awesome results. Well, just as the plane is about to take off, BOOM, Archer time, baby.
A fleet of cars chase the plane down the runway while Archer attacks it from the sky in a helicopter, shooting out an engine and causing it to crash. Once out, it’s the first of a few epic and awesome battle scenes. Truly, Woo turns this into an art form. They’re so awesome to watch, and so much fun. Except for when you’re trying to keep tabs, and you have to keep mental notes “20 slow motion scenes, 6 killed, 2 explo–oh wait, 22 slow motion, 9 killed, 3 explos—shit, 26 slow motion”…and so forth. Well, the end result is Troy getting put in a coma. People think it’s over, till there’s word of a bomb, and Troy’s brother isn’t talking. So, what else is there to do? The most obvious choice; cut off the vegetable villain’s face, and put it onto the hero cop’s so he can infiltrate things. Also make sure that only 3 people know, so in case anything goes a foot, no one can confirm the story.
Well, all is well and good until Troy wakes up from the ordeal and is a bit ticked. Honestly, this is the kind of guy who could be pissed if he was getting a blowjob, so waking up from a coma to find his face missing really sets him off. Also, since he’s a worldwide terrorist, and he isn’t dead, it stands to reason that he wouldn’t have security guarding his body or anything. Seriously, the place looks like a library after closing. There is nobody around. So, he gets the doctor who did this, gets the other two cops who know and kills ’em all after getting the same procedure and becoming Archer.
Now, Archer finds out what Troy has done, because Troy has paid him a visit in prison. Archer is upset with this, probably because Troy will use his Safeway Club card and get the cheap gas from the reward points. Archer is in a maximum security prison that most people in the world don’t even know about, but this doesn’t stop your boy. He escapes, and once out he realizes he’s on a fucking oil rig. Goddamn, that’d seriously be like getting an awesome BJ from a chick, and realize that what she said earlier was “I’m a man” not “you’re the man.” He doesn’t let this stop him and leaps off the motherfucker. Meanwhile, Troy has plans to become the biggest hero cop in America. So he finds and disables his own bomb, and kills his boss, making it look like a hero cop.
Word gets back to Troy [as Archer] that Troy [who’s Archer] is dead. He needs to see the body before he can rest. Archer hooks up with some of Troy’s old crew and starts to get some shit together. Troy finds out about this and gets together a SWAT team and storms the place. Another awesome Woo battle scene that alone is worth the price of admission. All of Troy’s crew is killed, as well as his brother. So, after escaping capture, Archer finds his wife and tries to convince her that he’s the real Archer, not Troy. She doesn’t believe him, but asks her to test the fake Archer’s blood, because the blood type won’t be the same. She finds this out, but keeps it cool till the next day, which is Archer’s father’s funeral, where the real Archer is gonna make his move.
It’s funeral day, and tadow, motherfucker. We get one of the best battle scenes I’ve ever seen. There’s an awesome shoot out in a church, then one of the most exciting chases ever that involves two boats, then fighting together on top of a speed boat as it flies across the ocean. Seriously, it’s fucking FANTASTIC, I can’t say enough about it. It’s stunning. Once they crash on a beach, it’s go time and the final fight starts.
Honestly, like I said in the beginning, this movie is fantastic. It’s got a great script, great characters and dialogue. Some of the greatest action scenes I’ve ever seen. It’s simply incredible, and one of the greatest action films of all time.
Official Man Movie Encyclopedia Tally:
Guys Beat Up: 12
Guys Killed: 42
Slow-Motion Scenes: 68
Foot Chase: 2
Car Chase: 2
Broken Bones: 0
Fight/Shoot-Out At Motel?: No
Guy Get Girl?: Archer was married, so he already had a girl.
Guy Smoke?: Yes
Surprisingly, there were none.
This film was originally supposed to cast Stallone and Schwarzenegger, which I think would have been a pretty huge deal. Also thrown around was the idea of Van Damme and Seagal, with each having to learn the other’s martial art. Both would have been cool, but I think Travolta and Cage were the right call.
In the prison that Castor Troy is a part of, they’re locked down via magnetic boots. These boots are the same that the Goombah’s wear in The Super Mario Brothers movie.
This film had been in developmental hell since 1990. Michael Douglas was originally thought to have been one of the stars, but he opted for a producer credit instead.
Released in 2,621 theaters by Paramount on June 27, 1997, Face/Off was a massive hit that brought in a worldwide total of $245,676,146, making their $80 million dollar budget back 3 times over. It came in at #1 on its opening weekend, making $23,387,530, with an average of $8,923 per theater.
C’mon, Bennet, Let’s Party!:
Face/Off is one of those films I watch and think “this is why movies exist”. It’s insanely far-fetched, and fun as hell. Tons of explosions, fights, shoot-outs, face-switching, plus Travolta & Cage being total hams and loving it. I consider this to be one of the greatest action films hands down, and only gets better as the years go by. It’s among the classics like Rambo, Die Hard, and Commando, and rightfully deserves it.
5 Head-Butts out of 5
Before I go, I’d like to say thank you to my editor, Steven Ferrari, for making me look far more professional & educated than I could ever truly hope to be.
If you’re digging the Man Movie Encyclopedia, you can purchase the first volume of it at Amazon, for a cool .99 cents. That’s less than a dollar! It features the classics, such as the Rambo & Die Hard triolgies, the Lethal Weapons, Commando, and a slew of others. Fair warning, reading the MME will probably force you to go through a second round of puberty. I can guarantee it’ll make your eyes grow hair, so, be warned, it’s that burly.
– Caliber Winfield