Title: “Face/Off”

Year: 1997

Run Time: 140 mins

Genre: Action/Thriller

Cast: John Travolta, Nicolas Cage,  Joan Allen, Alessandro Nivola, Gina Gershon, Dominique Swain, Nick Cassavetes,

Director: John Woo

Plot: Hate and rage are two lethal ingredients that can fuel a man to go above and beyond the call of duty, for the sake of hammering down justice and revenge on his enemy. Just what will it take for one man to accomplish these dangerous goals? And just how far is one man willing to go? For Sean Archer there are no boundaries. In his mind there is only one way to do this…he must become his enemy!

In Los Angeles, a war is brewing between two arch rivals, FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) and domestic terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage). This war goes beyond its boiling point when Castor Troy inadvertently kills Sean Archer’s beloved son during a botched assassination attempt on Archer’s life. From this point on, Sean blocks out everything else in his life as he devotes all of his inner energy to seeking out revenge and justice for his fallen son. Then, as the moment of truth is finally upon him, it seems as though Sean Archer’s never ending manhunt for Castor Troy is finally coming to an end as he induces Castor Troy into a coma making his capture complete. It’s finally over…or is it? Previously unknown to the FBI, they find out about a deadly masterpiece that Castor Troy has left behind, which will surely unleash a “biblical plague” on L.A. unless the countdown can be stopped. Unfortunately there is only one man alive that knows the whereabouts of this terrorist bomb and that is Castor’s paranoid brother Pollux (Alessandro Nivola). It’s unfortunate because he will not talk to anybody about it except his brother. Faced with this impossible dilemma, Archer makes the only decision that he knows must be done in order to infiltrate Pollux’s complicated mind. He must undergo a futuristic surgery that will replace his face with his most hated enemy…he must become Castor Troy!

The entire success of this movie almost solely rides on the performances of the actors picked to portray their characters on film. And director John Woo couldn’t of picked two better actor’s than the multi-talented duo of  John Travolta and Nicolas Cage to head his leading cast. The two of them interact masterfully with each other. The biggest trick they pulled off was not letting either one of them overtake the others character while sharing screen time. In order to make this on screen relationship work, they both had to deliver equally stunning performances that truly complimented each other. I mean when you’re opposite screen to a legendary actor such as John Travolta, this can seem like an impossible task…but Nicolas Cage was obviously a man who wasn’t going to let anyone intimidate him. He delivered what I felt was one of his greatest performances of all time. It was magical to see just how Travolta and Cage metamorphosed into their solar opposites right before my eyes. When John Travolta needed to be John Travolta portraying Sean Archer he was great. But when he needed to be Nicolas Cage portraying Castor Troy, he was nothing short of being brilliant. The same is to be said about Nicolas Cage. It was virtually mesmerizing watching the two become each other, at the same time being themselves. No two other actor’s could of pulled this off!

Equally as masterful, are the stunts and the action throughout the movies entirety. Would we expect anything less coming from a John Woo movie? John Woo (Broken Arrow, Mission Impossible II) has the reputation of delivering non-stop action and breathtaking stunts in his movies and he sure lived up to his reputation in “Face/Off”. Take for instance, the boat chase scene when Sean Archer is in pursuit of Castor Troy. The camera work was exquisite and the stunts were phenomenal. I felt as though I was on the boats caught up in the action with them. I was at the edge of my seat the whole time wondering just how much more punishment either man could take from this endless pursuit. Time and time again when I thought that the action was over, then another nail biting gun fight scene broke out between the two rivals. My personal favorite was the gun fight that ensued at Castor Troy’s hideout between Castor’s goons and Archer and the FBI. Wow! Talk about mass destruction! This whole movie in a nutshell was “a visually stunning action masterpiece.” My hats off to John Woo.

The Obvious: This is another action masterpiece directed by legendary John Woo with equally as legendary actor’s John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. Definitely performances of a lifetime given by both.

The Not So Obvious: The original duo that was picked to play the parts of Sean Archer and Castor Troy were Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Use your imagination to figure out how that would of worked out for the movie.

The Final Cut:“Face/Off” is another movie that can be added to John Woo’s list of action masterpieces. It’s nonstop “in your face” action pulls the viewers right into the screen causing them to get the full dose of what this movie has to offer. With masterful onscreen performances given by John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, “Face/Off” is sure to be remembered as one of the greatest action films ever made, as well as one of the best acted. This is a movie recommended for anyone accept for children under the age of 14. It’s just way to bloody and intense for the younger crowd. But everyone else better strap on their seat belts and get ready for the thriller of a lifetime!