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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Hollywood Rewind | Face-Off: Mostly stylish, sometimes silly, all-time beloved actioner

The sincerity with which John Woo and team made Face-Off rolls off the screen even in the silliest of scenes. Face-Off has this conviction and style about it that not many films, especially action films, do these days.

Written by Anvita Singh | New Delhi |
Updated: January 24, 2021 4:12:32 pm
hollywood rewindDirected by John Woo, Face-Off released in 1997. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Admittedly, there are a lot of silly things about Face-Off than they are not. But the positives of this actioner are so good that it outweighs the general lack of logic in the plot. First off, the actors are incredible. Nicolas Cage and John Travolta are two Hollywood stars who I have never had any particular fondness for but they do their job well here, especially Cage, who revels in the eccentricity of his ‘bad apple’ character Castor Troy (what a name by the way!) Travolta is also credible as the self-righteous cop who is willing to go the extra mile in order to protect the system from Castor’s umpteen nefarious plans. So far, so predictable. The thing that makes this actioner unique is the ingenious (considering the time it was conceived in; the early 90s) twist of face-swapping, therefore the title.

John Travolta’s cop Sean Archer thinks the only way to catch the villain is to literally become him. And as Nic Cage’s Castor lies comatose, Sean gets a whole new package. So even if Sean does get the new face, there is the height, body language-issue but hey, you cannot be nitpicking this deep when you are watching an action movie. In its defense, the mind-boggling action choreography and the leads’ performances quickly make you forget that what they are doing is not the real deal. In one chase scene, we see a car, a helicopter and an airplane all together. Director John Woo wanted a big-budget Hong-Kong-style action flick and that is what he made exactly.

The sincerity with which John Woo and team made Face-Off rolls off the screen even in the silliest of scenes. Face-Off has this conviction and style about it that many films, especially action films, don’t really have these days. And this is probably why it even remains close to its lead star Nicolas Cage’s heart. “I’m very proud of [‘Face/Off’] and I think it is one of the best movies I’ve ever made because of the challenge and if we had not hit that bullseye, we all would have probably stopped working because it was a big movie and there was a lot of money on the line. Fortunately, the three of us and everyone else in the movie managed to work together in a way that the alchemy was there so it was fun and exciting,” the actor had shared in an earlier interview.

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Here’s an interesting trivia about the film. The makers wanted to cast Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone instead of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. Because they were the biggest action stars at the time and seeing them battle each other would have been a treat for the fans and a definite crowd-puller. However, it goes without saying that Cage and Travolta were better choices. And the box office figures of the film is a testament to this. Face-Off made a whopping 245.7 million dollars against its more modest budget of 80 million dollars.

Face-Off is streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar.

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