DIRECTOR: John Woo
May Contain Spoilers!
John Woo’s Hollywood career has not been the most prolific, with more woes that highs, having made his name and continuing to do in the Hong Kong movie scene. Beginning with Broken Arrow in 1996, as well as relaunching John Travolta’s career as the maniacal, often villain type, Woo had entered the Hollywood mainstream and would follow this moderate hit with Face/Off, the Robocop style science fiction thriller/actioner in which FBI chief, Sean Archer (John Travolta) exchanges faces with his arch nemesis, Caster Troy (Nic Cage) in order to disarm a bomb planted in the heart of Los Angeles.
But this all goes to pot as Troy manages to take Travolta’s face and destroys any evidence of the top-secret procedure, leaving Archer, now looking like Troy, to rot in his place in an equally top-secret prison complex. But he soon escapes and the action and Hong Kong style stunts continue to trill.
I love Face/Off. Back in 1997 this was the height of Hollywood action and the grandfather of the dynamic action which we enjoy today and it all stems from Woo’s beautiful, balletic vision of action and violence, often lending little credence to the laws of physics but presenting a compelling plot, characters which are both human, yet outlandish and mashing it all together to deliver a thrill ride of an action movie.
There is a lot of heart here, with Shakespearean themes of vengeance and acceptance running at its core but let us not get bogged down with trying to make this anymore than what it is. It is just a complete movie, never demanding or requiring a sequel, paced well with twists and turns and a dark and edgy sense of humour which still holds up today.
It has to be seen to be believed and even then, it is just better to see it and enjoy it. As 90’s action goes, this is at the top of the pile.
“No more drugs for that man!”