When two men really don't like each other it's time to break the laws of medical science and do a face/off and then a face/on, while facing off. Inspiration demands much wiping of loved ones faces on, in case they get their faces blown off.
So let's start out with the science of said face/swap. Nope, can't work. The movie explicitly tells us that Cage and Travolta's characters (Troy and Archer, respectively) have two different blood types. So the face wouldn't even stay on. The body would reject the swap and then you'd really have a face off....onto the floor. Hey try not to step on your face. Then there's the height difference, hair lines and color, body hair amounts, eye color, dental structure, weight gain/loss, shoe size and the most damning of all differences -- the ding dong. Mrs. Archer must be only boning him when she's lit up like a X-mas tree because she can't tell that he husbands winky has gone from 4 inches and dropping left to 5 inches and constantly erect. Nice.
The sad thing about Face/Off is that there is really not as much action as people remember. There's only two sequences that are really actioney and they bookend an hour and half of not much happening action-wise. Good thing for the viewer is that during these slow points, Cage and Travolta are delivering some of the most outlandish acting we've seen this side of Wicker Man or Troll 2. They make a GREAT bad acting duo as they try to out over-the-top each other. It's chemistry, yes, and is the real draw for this film.
While the action is too few and far between, the plot is so stupid and the acting is so terrible that Face/Off is a definite revisit champion. It's riffable, its hilarious on its own. It's a blast....off.
Over the top action:
Good Movie Quality:
Bad Movie Quality:
Face off was a spec script that had been passed around and passed on. Written in 1990 by Mike Werb and Mike Colleary, it was originally option by Joel Silver then acquired by Michael Douglas. Douglas would stay on as uncredited silent executive producer but the film would go through various re-writes and casting changes before John Woo attached himself and the project would go full steam ahead, or backwards – TBD. Werb and Colleary were hoping the picture would star Douglas and Harrison Ford after Douglas had acquired the rights but years later the studio was pushing hard for Stallone vs. Schwarzenegger. By the time Woo attached himself to the film, Stallone and Schwaz were experience rapidly diminishing box office returns, while Cage and Travolta were about as hot as commodities could get. So the casting was basically a done deal though it is rumored that Woo was originally trying to get Van Damme for one of the main roles, who was also ice cold on the silver screen by that point.
Thought the cast is large and star studded, the real thespians of mention would be Gina Gershon and Nick Cassavetes, who play the seemingly incestuous sibling villains. They were allowed by Woo to do about whatever they wanted. The incest was there Idea and not in the script. Cassavetes just showed up bald one day and Woo loved it, which did however prompt the only no to the two of them from Woo; Gershon immediately wanted to shave her head as well. I imagine that Woo was a fan of mid 90s WWF and therefore realized that if Gina shaved her head as well it would just turn into the Bushwhackers. They would have been rolling around on screen, licking each other’s bald heads, the art department would have had to add oddly placed ropes and turnbuckles into various areas of the set, just so the two of them could randomly yank on them. So I guess one of the good decisions by Woo.
Woo is the progenitor of “Bullet Time”, though the name is owned by Warner and attached directly to the Matrix. It was the emotional moments of a gunfight, in super slow motion, pioneered by Woo that really got the ball rolling. The strange thing is that Woo had originally come up with it, as well as gun-fu out of pure disenfranchisement with the process of filmmaking. He had realized from an early point in his career that he would never get to make the films that he wanted to. He then made what he called the most ridiculous, grotesque and self fellating action sequences ever made. He was basically openly saying producers are idiots and all they want to see is flying people masturbating with guns in slow motion. He also thought it would end his career. Well people really liked it. Subsequently any producer from any film market worldwide who saw A Better Tomorrow launched a gallon of semen directly into their pants and fell face first into a coffee table exploding as if it was Jabba’s barge. The joke ended up being on him; he now had a career making films that he personally thought were vile garbage. The irony if his career is that the first time he had a hands off picture from a production stand point, it was Face Off. Surely, however, it was made known when he got Face Off that the studio wanted the Woo Woo train. He gave them what they wanted.