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Face/Off (1997)

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In order to foil an extortion plot, an FBI agent undergoes a facial transplant surgery and assumes the identity and physical appearance of a terrorist, but the plan turns from bad to worse when the same terrorist impersonates the FBI agent.

Director:

John Woo
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1,426 ( 237)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Travolta ... Sean Archer
Nicolas Cage ... Castor Troy
Joan Allen ... Eve Archer
Alessandro Nivola ... Pollux Troy
Gina Gershon ... Sasha Hassler
Dominique Swain ... Jamie Archer
Nick Cassavetes ... Dietrich Hassler
Harve Presnell ... Victor Lazarro
Colm Feore ... Dr. Malcolm Walsh
John Carroll Lynch ... Prison Guard Walton
CCH Pounder ... Hollis Miller
Robert Wisdom ... Tito Biondi
Margaret Cho ... Wanda
James Denton ... Buzz (as Jamie Denton)
Matt Ross ... Loomis
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Storyline

Sean Archer, a very tough, rugged FBI Agent, is still grieving for his dead son Michael. Archer believes that his son's killer is his sworn enemy and a very powerful criminal, Castor Troy. One day, Archer has finally cornered Castor, however, their fight has knocked out Troy cold. As Archer finally breathes easy over the capture of his enemy, he finds out that Troy has planted a bomb that will destroy the entire city of Los Angeles and all of its inhabitants. Unfortunately the only other person who knows its location is Castor's brother Pollux, and he refuses to talk. The solution, a special operation doctor that can cut off people's faces, and can place a person's face onto another person. Archer undergoes one of those surgeries to talk to Pollux. However, Castor Troy somehow regains consciousness and now wants revenge on Archer for taking his face. Not only is Troy ruining Archer's mission, but his personal life as well. Archer must stop Troy again. This time, it's personal. Written by John Wiggins

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Only one will survive See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for intense sequences of strong violence, and for strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

27 June 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Face Off See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$80,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,387,530, 29 June 1997, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$112,225,777, 2 November 1997

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$128,000,000, 22 March 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS (uncredited)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Pollux Troy's voice and speech mannerisms performed by Alessandro Nivola weren't part of the script. Nivola was inspired by Charles Crumb, the brother of artist Robert Crumb who appeared in the documentary Crumb (1994), a film Nivola was watching at the time of filming. See more »

Goofs

When Sean (as Castor Troy) is doing the 'water skiing' thing, trying to hang on to the speedboat's chain, in the close-up the harness he wears is visible under his wet white shirt. See more »

Quotes

Sean Archer: [over a car phone in a stolen car] Eve, listen to me. The man you think is your husband isn't.
Dr. Eve Archer: Who is this?
Sean Archer: Listen. Take Jamie. Go to your mother's. Don't tell him where you're going, just go!
Dr. Eve Archer: Whoever you are, don't call again!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Killer Joe (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Prelude in D-Flat, Op. 28, No. 15 ('Raindrop')
By Frédéric Chopin
Performed by Irina Zaritzkaya
Courtesy of Naxos of America
By Arrangement with Source/Q
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
"Face/Off" - Identity crisis?
11 September 2007 | by dee.reidSee all my reviews

A movie about a hockey match, this isn't.

1997's "Face/Off," the third (and to this date, most successful) American feature from Hong Kong action director John Woo, is everything a fan of Woo's Asian work could possibly hope for. It's a loud, fast-paced, and spectacularly violent epic helmed by a master craftsman. And even with this ambitious third American feature, it is vastly on par with the director's Hong Kong work and is very easily one of the best films of his career.

Woo made a name for himself back in Asia as the director of hyper-stylized, hard-hitting pot-boiler action films like "The Killer" (1989) and "Hard Boiled" (1992), where he made an art form of dual-pistol-wielding gun-play and action shoot-'em-up. You want action? John Woo is your man to go to. He made his first American feature with Jean-Claude Van Damme in "Hard Target" (1993) and followed it up with "Broken Arrow" in 1996. Now we're at "Face/Off."

"Face/Off" stars a daring and intrepid Los Angeles F.B.I. agent named Sean Archer (John Travolta), who for the last six years has been on the trail of psycho freelance terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) after he killed Archer's young son. So when Archer finally captures Troy (who's put into a coma as a result) within the film's opening 20 minutes, Archer thinks it's the last of his arch-nemesis.

But of course it's not over, not by a long shot. The screenplay by writers Mike Webb and Michael Colleary throws us a curve-ball in the form of something write out of a sci-fi medical novel: to save L.A. from biological annihilation, Archer must become his enemy and learn the location of said biological payload. Archer trades physical identities with Troy bu undergoing a radical surgical procedure to get Troy's sociopath younger brother Pollux (Alessandro Nivola) to give up the goods.

However, Troy comes out of his coma and assumes Archer's identity as an F.B.I. man, a job he comes to love and abuses with joyful glee, and even gets cozy with Archer's neglected wife Eve (Joan Allen) and daughter Jamie (Dominique Swain). His first move is to destroy all the evidence that proves each man's true identity and seemingly leaves no way to reverse the procedures when he kills everyone involved in the mission (how sick and twisted is he, anyway?). His next plan is to systematically eliminate his old allies to afford protection for himself and his brother. In the meantime, Archer (as Castor) is left to rot in a federal prison that the Geneva Convention doesn't know exists and has to find a way to get out to defeat his nemesis once and for all, even if it means actually "becoming" him, and using Troy's old buddies to his advantage. You want to talk about identity crisis?

10 years after its release, this movie is still as balletic and energetic, action-packed and exciting as it was all those years ago. John Travolta and Nicolas Cage were perfectly cast as the perfect hero and perfect villain in what was one of the hottest action movies of that year. The only problem is, though, both actors enjoy switching their roles and playing off each other in a vicious blood feud, although it seems that Travolta was having the most fun here, leaving Cage a little hard-pressed to remain on the sidelines as the hero. Hot off their success in movies such as "Pulp Fiction" (1994) and "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995), Travolta revels in Cage's bad guy performance (even if Cage is Cage and Travolta is Travolta - for only about 20 minutes each). Coldly sadistic and over-the-edge/brave and determined, you can tell who likes things best.

The film's action scenes, which there are plenty of, is where "Face/Off" chiefly excels at. Woo brings much of the gusto and gun-play loved by so many in his native land to a place that's foreign. Perhaps this is why his two earlier efforts may have been failures here in the U.S. (Yet, third time's a charm, right?) As if crises of identity weren't enough, Woo seemed to be going through a transformation himself, adjusting his craft for American audiences.

But with "Face/Off," Woo proves to be at the top of his game, since he has the right actors, the right action and special effects, and the right stuff to pull it all off.

10/10


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