Anthony's Film Review

Face/Off (1997)

Here is an action movie that is quite intriguing in its premise and execution...

Before I talk about the movie Face/Off, let me quickly go off-topic about the title. It's very unusual to see a movie title with a forward slash that doesn't substitute for the word "or." From what I read, it's a space filler for a rather peculiar purpose: to avoid calling this movie "Face Off" without the slash, which could be misunderstood as being the title of a sports movie. Whatever the reason, I guess the slash is here to stay, even though I see no problem calling this movie "Face Off" instead of "Face/Off."

In any event, this movie benefits from three people: its two stars, John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, as well as director John Woo. Just knowing that they're involved and working together is very reassuring. Woo, a veteran of directing action movies, can also direct suspense, which is a key element in Face/Off. Travolta and Cage are fine actors no doubt, and under the direction of Woo, they just captivate the screen.

So what's the story? Well, in the beginning, Travolta is the good guy named Sean Archer and Cage is the bad guy named Castor Troy. It's your standard plot involving a government agent versus a nemesis who must be stopped. The twist involves technology that enables seamless face transplants. What happens is that Archer spots an opportunity to disguise himself as Troy using the guy's face. That way, he can easily infiltrate enemy territory.

But the same thing happens with Troy. He takes Archer's face and pretends to be the good guy. This is where the whole movie really plays with our mind. Just when you're getting used to Travolta as the protagonist and Cage as the antagonist, you're forced to shift perspective. The moment Troy disguised as Archer appears, you are seeing Travolta with an evil look, and when he first appears this way, the shot is done in slow motion, as if letting you absorb this change. From there, you have to accept Cage as the good guy and Travolta as the bad guy.

Of course, that's only part of why Face/Off rocks. The action, what you're really watching the movie for, is pretty awesome. If you are familiar with John Woo's previous works, you know what I'm talking about. It's intense, explosive, and eye-popping. One of my favorite scenes involves the two men duking it out on speedboats. Obviously, I won't go into detail about it. Just watch the movie and enjoy the show.

In conclusion, Face/Off works because of action, suspense, two powerful stars, and one master director. That is my bottom line, pure and simple.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Face/Off, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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