Face/Off (1997) Poster


User Reviews

Add a Review
551 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
One of the greatest action films ever made
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews29 July 2004
John Woo knows, if anybody, how to make good, stylish action. And that's exactly what this film is; good, cool, stylish action. The plot is great; fairly psychological and quite interesting. It has a fast(and remarkably even) pace, I don't think more than 30 minutes passes at any point in the movie without a giant action scene. All in all, I'd guess there are about four or five major shootouts, and two chase scenes which are each several minutes long(without getting repetitive, fortunately). The acting is excellent; every single major part is well-played. John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Joan Allen, Alessandro Nivola, Gina Gershon, Dominique Swain... all give great, entirely believable performances. The best are definitely Travolta and Cage, though; fantastic, truly stellar performances. The characters are all well-written and credible, right down to the most minor one. The action is cool and very stylish, in every single action-scene. The theme of the film is great; of course, the story is completely unlikely, with the face-switching and all, but once you get past that, once you suspend disbelief, you'll most likely enjoy the film thoroughly. The script is excellent, plenty of action, drama, and thriller parts. Also, you gotta love the sharp contrast 3/4's into the movie, with the kid listening to sugary pop-music, while people are shooting intensely at each other. Great film. I recommend it to any fan of John Woo, Nicholas Cage, John Travolta and action films. 8/10
140 out of 197 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
John and Nicholas make quite a pair in Face/Off
Kristine28 November 2003
"Face/Off" is an excellent movie that will never get out of your head, it's that memorable. I saw this movie probably 6 or 7 years ago and I still think about it and finally bought it the other day.

The performances, this is it, folks. We have two of the finest and very popular actors: John Travolta and Nicholas Cage. These two are amazing, to transfer back and forth. John had to go from this kind, loving, and very sensitive man to a looney, cold-blooded, heartless maniac. Nicholas went from being the scary and perverted psycho to a helpless and struggling man trapped in this killer's body. My kudos to Nicholas, that was a tough performance to capture. I felt his pain, no one would believe that he was Sean Archer, who would after all? His body has been kidnapped from Castor Troy who is now playing around with his job, his daughter, and his wife. I felt so scarred for him, because I cannot imagine in a million years what that must feel like, the isolation, the abuse, and the feeling of utter helplessness. In my opinion, these are one of the best performances in 1997. The supporting cast of: Joan Allen, Gina Gershon, and Alessandro Nivola add so much, you get into the film entirely.

This is a very scary movie. This is identity theft gone terribly wrong and beyond any borders. I loved this movie and any other film fanatic will definitely enjoy it as well. It has great action, drama, romance, and dark comedy that bring together a terrific film.

107 out of 155 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
a great action experience
Special-K8814 February 2002
From director John Woo comes this exhilarating action movie that takes a deadly cat and mouse game to the next level! A tortured federal agent, haunted by a painful tragedy and obsessed with catching the slick sociopathic terrorist who's eluded him for years and years, is forced to take the face of his mortal enemy in order to acquire vital information. The daring plan quickly goes awry when he loses his own identity in the process, and discovers his arch-enemy is cohabiting with his family. Film's enjoyment depends on the viewer: you'll either condemn the film's story as absurd and far-fetched, or you'll buy into it and go along for this supercharged, over-the-top action extravaganza. Travolta and Cage are both extraordinarily good, and with Woo at the helm you know that you'd better hang on for dear life! Occasionally silly, with a plot that tosses credibility out the window, but still lots of fun. ***
54 out of 75 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Nicholas Cage could have given the Joker a run for his money!
Girish Gowda2 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Castor Troy (Nicholas Cage) is an accomplished international assassin & Shaun Archer (John Travolta) is the head of an anti-terrorism police force. While on a mission to kill Shaun, Troy accidentally kills Shaun's little son. So, Shaun now makes it his life's mission to bring Troy to justice & gain peace of mind for himself. When Troy goes into a coma during his escape from the police, Shaun learns that he is planning to blow up a square mile of the city. So, with the help of ultramodern technology, Shaun transforms into Troy to get the information about the location of the bomb from Troy's younger brother & only three people know about this. Then Troy wakes up from his coma, transforms himself into Shaun, kills everyone who knows about the procedure & goes to live in Shaun's home. Can the real Shaun protect his family and thousands of people and show he is not Troy to everybody?

Nicholas Cage is one of my favorite actors and this was coming on TV last night and I decided to see it as it had been close to a decade the last time I saw it and I didn't remember anything. Some of my friends told me that Cage could have played the Joker in Batman, if this performance was anything to go by and provided he still looked like it (he is not this good looking now). I completely agree with them on this. The level of insanity and brilliance produced by Nicholas Cage in this movie is simply mind-blowing for its time. I mean, the Joker was not the standard bar for maniac characters on screen at the time this movie was made and Cage made Troy such a chilling presence. Even as Shaun, Cage was perfect. John Travolta (this is my second Travolta movie after 'The Taking Of Pelham 123' last year) couldn't carry out Troy's maniac part very convincingly (or I should say, as convincingly as Cage), except in the climax with Shaun's daughter. But, he was perfect as Shaun. I thought that Troy was beginning to have good feelings for the daughter, while he was teaching her how to defend herself and was trying to look at life from a fresh perspective. But, that was blown out of the window and I found out that he never had any sort of feelings for anybody but himself and his brother. Joan Allen as Shaun's wife, Eve was fine in her short role. Pollux Troy also was very convincing as the nerdy and somewhat maniac brother of Castor Troy.

Though the premise of the story is too far-fetched and the shoot-out between the main protagonists, whenever they meet, is insanely non-stop throughout the movie, it still entertains because of the powerhouse performance by Nicholas Cage and very credible acting from John Travolta. I hated the fact that most of the action scenes were made just to satisfy the fans, the climax was half an hour for god's sake. With this concept and these incredible actors, Face/Off's acting and dramatic scenes were so good that it would still be a great film without the shoot outs.

9 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An Action Classic That Will Never Lose Its Appeal
gatsby224423 July 2005
I consider John Woo to be one of the greatest action movie directors in the world,and "Face/Off" proves just that.However,the element that makes this film one of the most intense and spectacular action movies to ever come from Hollywood is the presence of two tremendously talented actors,both of whom are my favorites.Yes,when you have John Travolta and Nicholas Cage together in a movie ,the results are bound to be over the top. John Travolta plays Sean Archer,a dedicated FBI agent who survived a murder attempt by notorious criminal Castor Troy six years ago. However,tragically his son died instead of him and since than Archer is relentlessly chasing Troy.Nicholas Cage plays Troy,and the film begins with a spectacular chase where we see the sheer intensity generated by both these great actors,and you realize that this is not going to be just another action flick. Troy escapes,but his younger brother Pollux Troy(played by Alessandro Nivola) falls into Archer's hands,along with a floppy that contains the blueprint for a bomb to be detonated in downtown L.A. Pollux refuses to reveal the location of the bomb and then a desperate Archer is given an option that is so spine-chilling that Archer refuses immediately.Realizing soon that he has no other choice,he decides to do what he is asked to-to exchange his face for Troy's, and what's more,to alter his entire physical attributes,so that he can go to the prison where his brother is being kept,and fool him into believing that he is Troy and get the location of the bomb from him.The plan seems to work until the moment Castor realizes what has happened,puts on Archer's face,and sets out for revenge.He fools the FBI,fools Archer's wife and sleeps with her and just when one thinks that this is too much,the real Archer escapes prison and it's payback time. Both Travolta and Cage play their roles perfectly,and they do a fantastic job playing each other too. The rest of the cast simply fades away in comparison,and who cares ? Dominique Swain as Archer's rebellious daughter looks good on screen-but that's about it.Joan Allen as his wife is not too impressive either.Gina Gershon as Troy's lover seems much more real in comparison.John Woo provides the film with a novel and flawless script,and some of the best action sequences ever filmed.This film is an absolute must for any action fan,and definitely the best Woo ever made.
92 out of 138 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Woo's US breakthrough: A triumph!
Libretio26 January 2000

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)

Sound formats: Dolby Digital / DTS

This magnificent thriller represents director John Woo's triumphant return to the kind of hyperkinetic, emotionally charged film-making which made him such a hot property in the first place. Following the artistic bankruptcy of his first two Hollywood projects, this one is a marriage of high-octane movie-making and mind-twisting narrative complexities. It's also one of the few American action movies which manages to strike a balance between crowd-pleasing set-pieces and domestic interludes, and renders them equally important. John Travolta and Nicolas Cage are perfectly matched as hero/villain (and vice versa!), whilst heavyweight theatre actress Joan Allen provides the narrative with much of its dramatic backbone in the role of Travolta's wife (the scene in which she is first confronted with her husband in Cage's body is almost identical to a similar scene in Terence Fisher's FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED [1969]).

Technically, the film is a blast, and Woo stages the action highlights with a visual grace and dexterity that is often breathtaking to behold. The climactic speedboat battle is probably the finest set-piece of Woo's career to date, and the script is overflowing with visual and thematic ironies that underscore the action highlights. In fact, the production has arguably more dramatic resonance than any other Hollywood blockbuster of the 1990s, but the dictates of American commercialism mean that Woo is only able to skate over the emotional surface of his characters and their moral dilemmas. The two main protagonists are much too cold and heartless to fully engage the audience's sympathies, and there's nothing here that matches the scorching human drama of, say, BULLET IN THE HEAD (1990). But for all that, FACE/OFF dares to go deeper than your average Hollywood action picture. It's clever, witty and thrilling, and it manages to accomplish the difficult task of feeding the brain whilst entertaining the eye.
82 out of 123 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Corny. Crazy. Cool.
Angry_Arguer10 July 2003
Face/Off is amazing because it mixes an outrageously cornball plot with some of the best acting in an action movie. How John Woo pulled it off is beyond me. His visual imagery is flamboyant and decorative, yet never fails to deliver the goods. There is always a flurry of images to grasp our attention. Granted, his typical trademarks are here, but never does the script suffer from the same problems as in his other works.

Nicolas Cage and John Travolta are phenomenal in their dual roles each. The rest of the cast isn't very deep and is more filler than anything else. The editing job feels underdone, particularly when the action sequences get to the "overcooked" staged. Still, how many speedboat chases or airplane crashes are you going to see in a slow-motion?

Overall, a summer action movie that delivers in acting, directing, and most other departments. 4 out of 5 stars.
56 out of 85 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Way too over the top
rab4021 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The first time I saw this movie I thought to myself "hey, this is pretty exciting." After the first fight scene it quickly dawned on me, however that the action in this movie is all the same and none of it makes any sense (like every John Woo movie). First of all, lets examine the movie's main premise. Taking a face from one person and grafting it on another will not make them look exactly like them: there's their entire facial structure underneath to consider. The movie tries to briefly explain this and their two very different body types but it's very sketchy. Also, apparently medical science has progressed past scarring and major surgery patients can drive themselves home from the hospital the very same day.

Then there's the action. There are like three scenes where bad-John Travolta is in a 20 x 20 room with good-Nicholas Cage and both fail to shoot the other even with automatic weapons, yet John can kill 4 cops while simultaneously driving a high-speed boat. I understand that the good guy has to make it to the end, but the shootouts are so poorly coordinated that it's hard to believe a cross-eyed kid in a wheelchair could have fired as much as our two stars and failed to hit someone, especially when the squibs go off directly behind the person being shot at. The end seals the ridiculous deal: after missing with about 1000 gun shots, good-Cage finally finishes off his foe with the second of 2 harpoon guns that happened to be on a private leisure boat(why?), but only after John exerts about 500lbs of force with his hand on the gun's springs and staves off death for another few seconds. In conclusion, this movie is a bunch of cliché action that is too ludicrous to be entertaining. Don't waste your time with this or any other John Woo movie unless you enjoy seeing people not get shot and plenty of doves flying.
61 out of 98 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Nicolas Cage and John Travolta Make the Film Succeed
tfrizzell27 July 2000
"Face/Off" is a somewhat complicated action thriller which involves an obsessed FBI agent (John Travolta) who decides to become a comatose criminal (Nicolas Cage) by literally trading faces with him. The purpose in doing this is to learn where a bomb is by going undercover in a maximum-security prison and getting the information from Cage's brother. When Cage's character comes out of his coma, he decides to take Travolta's face. Still with me? In short Travolta's FBI agent is now Cage's crazed criminal and vise versa. What follows is a wild and crazy thrill ride that is a bit hard to keep straight, but ultimately fun to watch and quite satisfying. Overall a really good film. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
74 out of 122 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews