In 1997 I was only five so, unfortunately, I missed out on being able to witness the glorious Face/Off at the cinemas when it was first released. However from the first moment I did get to see it, I would borrow it from Video Ezy at any excuse/holiday/event, but does it hold up on repeat viewing? On the 20th Anniversary of its release, we thought we’d ask the question…
So, is it STILL any good?Ok, well technically no it never was, but everyone for very good reasons loves it. 1997 was filled with a lot of action films: there were dinosaurs, an irrelevant sequel to Speed, James Bond, another English spy arguably just as suave as Pierce Brosnan in Austin Powers, and of course Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones fighting aliens, but this was the year of the Cage, Nicholas Cage.First, there was Con Air, then there was Face/Off, truly the most amazingly far-fetched concept for a spy thriller of all time. Nicholas Cage pretending to be John Travolta while Travolta pretends to be Cage. That sentence hurt my head a little but let it sink in; if you need help with that one just ask Kirk Lazarus to explain it to you. The best word to describe Cage’s style of acting is manic, and watching Travolta channel his inner cage is hilarious. Before I go on I will take this moment to remind you that this movie has an Oscar nomination, no not for acting, it’s for Best Sound Effects Editing, but still.
Face/Off revolves around John Travolta as FBI agent Sean Archer, relentlessly hunting the man responsible for the death of his son Michael, a terrorist named Castor Troy at this stage played by Nicholas Cage. After roughly 30 minutes of absolute destruction of an airport and plane, the death of a handful of FBI agents and a pilot, Castor is defeated and Archer can go back to a desk job.Before you can say “plot twist”, Castor Troy has a bomb somewhere and there is only one way of finding out where it is, and nope it’s not truth serum. A strange medical facility must swap their faces and body composition so Archer can pretend to be Castor Troy to get his troubled brother Pollux Troy (Alessandro Nivola – you know, the idiot that steals raptor eggs in Jurassic Park 3) to talk. There’s also a subplot that addresses Archer’s marital issues with his doctor wife (Joan Allen) in the background of this complex and at times genuinely creative storyline.
Director John Woo has an eye for action that is undeniable, the story is bizarre to say the very least and the plot is full of holes (the biggest being why are you taking off your jacket Nic just to be offered and helped into another?!?). Like every movie that has these two unquestionably unique stars in it though, it is impossible to look away from and lives up to every expectation you have for it to this day.
Whatever you are doing right now, stop it, log into Netflix, and at the very least put this on your list. You won’t be sorry.