Monday, December 8, 2014

Face/Off (1997)

John Woo's career stateside was sort of mixed bag.  His debut, Hard Target, was okay and Broken Arrow is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine but his one indisputable great American action movie is Face/Off.  John Travolta is FBI agent Sean Archer, obsessed to the point of neglecting his family with taking down ruthless criminal Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) who accidentally killed his son right in front of him.

After a fantastic shootout at an airstrip, he finally nabs the villain and outs him in a coma but then has to track down a he bomb Troy has planted in Los Angeles.  Since this is an over the top action film, he takes an offer from some colleagues to go deep undercover to get info from his imprisoned brother... as Troy.  Doing do requires a face transplant and in one of the better sequences in the film, we see the procedure complete with some nice f/x work from Kevin Yagher.  This is the sort of over the top plot idea I love and here, it;s done very well.  It's silly, it's unrealistic but nevertheless is works.

Naturally, things can't go easy so Troy wakes up from his coma and naturally wants a face so he takes Archer's.  The rest of the film is a real treat as we see Travolta playing Cage and vice versa.  It's almost to the point where the great action scenes are an added bonus.  Both lead actors do a nice job of emulating each other without lapsing into a simple impression of the other.  Though it probably helps that they have similar acting styles (start with some level of realism and then add ham as needed).

The rest of the cast is pretty good too with highlights being Joan Allen as Archer's wife and Gina Gershon as Troy's girlfriend.

The action is, as one would expect from a John Woo film, top notch and full of style.  The finale is a great boat chase that looks like something out of a James Bond film and the fight at the end between Cage and Travolta is nicely brutal.  There is a little cheese, Woo does tend to go overboard with some of his stuff but honestly, that's all part of the fun.

Face/Off was the second half of a nice one-two punch for Cage in 1997 with Con Air being the first.  Both films are nice, huge hunks of ridiculous action fun and it still holds up fairly well today.  Good stuff.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.