"Face/Off Film Review"
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Nicolas Cage and John Travolta are absolutely incredible in this film. This action thriller from John Woo pits the two acting heavyweights against each other, yet they're physically wearing their enemy's face. After undergoing an operation, Sean Archer (Travolta) is now in Castor Troy (Cage)'s body to try and infiltrate his gang of terrorists.
However, Troy wakes up (without any face present on his body) and forces the doctor to sew Archer's face on before he kills them and burns the facility. Troy is now out for revenge against Archer, and is trying to bring down and destroy everything he loves and cares about.
The movie does something incredibly shocking in the first 5 minutes - we see a little boy get shot in the head on accident. This is the main motive for why Archer is hunting down Troy as he cares more about getting revenge for his son than he does for capturing a fugitive in America. This provides a really nice and unique plot setup for our two characters. Instead of following the generic action film formula, we have a deeper and more moving motive for why our characters do what they do.
This movie has you on the edge of your seat the entire runtime. It's action packed, with excellently choreographed fight scenes. Some of the deaths in these scenes are also very hard to watch. Consider the scene where one of Troy's goons jumps in front of the gun to save a woman and child. He then starts talking to Troy (who is really Archer in disguise) while he bleeds out of a bullet hole in his neck. It puts a more emotional spin on the scene rather than him just falling down dead.
My favorite aspect of this film is the impressive acting performances by both Travolta and Cage. We understand that the two characters have switched bodies. Yet, I don't think it would have really connected for the viewer if it was anyone else besides the two actors. Take the scene where Archer does drugs with Troy's gang. They're cracking jokes about Archer and his dead son. Archer tries to join in on the laughter, but Cage performs the scene so well as you see him laughing one second, then trying to hold back physical agony the next. It's some of the best acting from Cage in my opinion.
The ending is predictable, like all action flicks like these are. Yet, we get such excitement and adrenaline when the bad guy is defeated. Why? Perhaps it's the motive and the reason that Archer has behind his actions. Perhaps it's the amazing performances in this film. Or better yet, maybe it's all of it combined to make this such a fantastic film.