Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Woo|
|Produced by||David Permut
Barrie M. Osborne
|Written by||Mike Werb
|Music by||John Powell|
|Edited by||Christian Wagner|
|Distributed by||North America:
Buena Vista International
|Running time||139 minutes|
Face/Off is a 1997 American science fiction action thriller film directed by John Woo and starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. Travolta is an FBI agent and Cage is a terrorist, sworn enemies who assume the physical appearances of each other. The film exemplifies Woo's signature gun fu and heroic bloodshed action sequences, and has Travolta and Cage each playing two personalities. It was the first Hollywood film in which Woo was given complete creative control and was acclaimed by both audiences and critics. Eventually grossing $245 million worldwide, Face/Off was a financial success, and has since become a cult classic.
FBI Special Agent Sean Archer has a personal vendetta against civil freelance terrorist Castor Troy after Castor killed Archer's son Michael while trying to assassinate Archer. Archer lays an ambush to capture Castor and his brother Pollux at a small Los Angeles airport. During the ambush, Castor goads Archer with knowledge of a bomb located somewhere in the city, but is knocked into a coma before Archer can learn more.
Archer affirms the existence and size of the bomb from Pollux' documents, but Pollux refuses to talk to anyone but his brother. Archer's partner and friend Tito convinces him to undergo an experimental face transplant surgery by Dr. Walsh, replacing his face with Castor's. The procedure is kept a secret to only the three. Archer is incarcerated in the same high-security prison as Pollux, and slowly works on Pollux to learn the bomb's location.
Meanwhile, Castor wakes from his coma and discovers his face missing. With the help of his men, Castor forces Dr. Walsh to give him Archer's face, and then kills Walsh and Tito. Castor easily takes over Archer's life, including being with Archer's wife Eve and daughter Jamie. Castor goes to the prison to gloat to Archer, and then is able to arrange for Pollux' release under guise of sharing information, and then subsequently locates and disarms the bomb with much bravado. The FBI department is impressed with the new confidence Castor demonstrates as Archer.
Archer manages to escape from prison and finds his way to Castor's headquarters, and convinces Castor's men that he is Castor. He finds one of Castor's gang is a young mother named Sasha with her boy Adam who bears a strong resemblance to Michael. Archer takes sympathy on Sasha's attempt to lead a better life for Adam. Castor learns of Archer's escape and arranges a large FBI team to raid his headquarters. The raid is run in haste, causes a number of agents and Castor's men, including Pollux, to be killed. Archer, Sasha, Adam, and several others manage to escape. Back at FBI headquarters, Castor is lambasted by Archer's supervisor, Director Victor Lazarro, but Castor loses his patience and kills him; he is able to convince the rest of the department that Lazarro died by a heart attack, and he is promoted to Acting Director as funeral arranges are made for Lazarro.
Archer finds Castor's promotion makes it impossible to approach. Archer meets with Eve at the hospital where she works, and though not able to convince him of his identity, finds that she recognizes that her husband seems different. Eve obtains a blood sample from Castor and finds it does not match her husband's blood. When Archer returns, Eve is still confused but lets Archer know of the pending funeral which Castor will be present at. Archer persuades Castor's men to launch a non-lethal attack during the funeral.
At the funeral, Archer finds that Castor has anticipated his actions and has taken Eve hostage. Sasha is able to free Eve, but is fatally shot in taking a bullet for Archer, and Archer promises to watch after Adam for her. Castor attempts to take Jamie hostage, but she retaliates by stabbing him with a butterfly knife using a technique he taught her. Castor, with his identity blown, leads Archer on a speedboat chase. Archer forces Castor ashore, and attempts to subdue him through melee. Castor is cornered and attempts to cut open his face, making it impossible for Archer to get back, but Archer kills Castor with a spear gun. As the FBI surround the pair, Eve is able to convince the agents of Archer's true identity. The face transplant is reversed, and Archer helps to introduce Adam into his new home.
- John Travolta as Sean Archer / Castor Troy
- Nicolas Cage as Castor Troy / Sean Archer
- Joan Allen as Dr. Eve Archer
- Alessandro Nivola as Pollux Troy
- Gina Gershon as Sasha Hassler
- Dominique Swain as Jamie Archer
- Nick Cassavetes as Dietrich Hassler
- Harve Presnell as Victor Lazarro
- Colm Feore as Dr. Malcolm Walsh
- John Carroll Lynch as Guard Walton
- C. C. H. Pounder as Dr. Miller
- Robert Wisdom as Tito
- Margaret Cho as Wanda
- James Denton as Buzz
- Matt Ross as Loomis
- Danny Masterson as Karl
Face/Off was a spec script which writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary tried to sell to a studio from as early as 1990. It took numerous studios, producers and rewrites before John Woo became attached several years later. For the Archer character, Woo considered casting either Michael Douglas or Jean-Claude Van Damme whom he had worked with in Hard Target. When the film was eventually made, Douglas served as an executive producer. Werb and Colleary have cited White Heat (1949) and Seconds (1966) as influences on the plot.
With an $80 million production budget, Face/Off made heavy use of action set pieces including several violent shootouts and a boat chase filmed in the Los Angeles area. The boat scene at the end of the film was shot in San Diego.
Face/Off was released in North America on June 27, 1997 and earned $23,387,530 on its opening weekend, ranking number one in the domestic box office. It went on to become the 11th highest domestic and 14th worldwide grossing film of 1997, earning a domestic total of $112,276,146 and $133,400,000 overseas for a total of worldwide gross of $245,676,146. It was a box office hit.
The Region 1 DVD of Face/Off was one of the first films to be released on the format on October 7, 1998. A 10th Anniversary Collector's Edition DVD was released on September 11, 2007 and the now-defunct HD DVD on October 30, 2007 in the United States. The new DVD is a 2-disc set including 7 deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and several featurettes.
The film was released on Blu-ray Disc in the United Kingdom on October 1, 2007 by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, and was released in the United States on May 20, 2008 by Paramount Home Entertainment.
Face/Off received very positive reviews from critics and garnered high box office earnings, making it a critical and financial success. The role reversal between Travolta and Cage was a subject of praise, as were the stylized, violent action sequences. Critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four and remarked that "Here, using big movie stars and asking them to play each other, Woo and his writers find a terrific counterpoint to the action scenes: All through the movie, you find yourself reinterpreting every scene as you realize the "other" character is "really" playing it." Rolling Stone's Peter Travers said of the film, "You may not buy the premise or the windup, but with Travolta and Cage taking comic and psychic measures of their characters and their own careers, there is no resisting Face/Off. This you gotta see." Richard Corliss of Time Magazine said that the film "isn't just a thrill ride, it's a rocket into the thrilling past, when directors could scare you with how much emotion they packed into a movie."
Some critics felt the film's violence was excessive, and that the action sequences dragged out too long. Barbara Shulgasser of the San Francisco Examiner called the movie "idiotic" and argued that "a good director would choose the best of the six ways and put it in his movie. Woo puts all six in. If you keep your eyes closed during a Woo movie and open them every six minutes, you'll see everything you need to know to have a perfectly lovely evening at the cinema."
The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes currently gives the film a "Fresh" rating of 91% based on 82 reviews, with an average rating of 7.9/10. The site's consensus reads: "Travolta and Cage play cat-and-mouse (and literally play each other) against a beautifully stylized backdrop of typically elegant, over-the-top John Woo violence." On Metacritic, the film received a metascore of 82 out of 100 from 25 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing (Mark Stoeckinger) at the 70th Academy Awards, but lost to another Paramount film Titanic. Face/Off also won Saturn Awards for Best Directing and Writing, and the MTV Movie Awards for Best Action Scene (the speedboat chase) and Best Duo for Travolta and Cage.
|Face/Off: Original Soundtrack|
|Film score by John Powell|
|Released||July 1, 1997
April 26, 2006
|John Powell chronology|
All music composed by John Powell, except as noted.
|2.||"80 Proof Rock"||4:29|
|4.||"The Golden Section Derma Lift"||3:15|
|5.||"This Ridiculous Chin"||6:51|
|6.||"No More Drugs for That Man"||John Powell, Gavin Greenaway||7:27|
|7.||"Hans' Loft"||John Powell, Gavin Greenaway||3:34|
|8.||"Ready for the Big Ride‚ Bubba"||3:53|
Several pieces of music and songs were used in the film but not included in the soundtrack. These include:
- "Since By Man Came Death" and "Hallelujah" from oratorio 'Messiah' - Handel
- Pamina's Aria "Ach, ich fühl's" from "Die Zauberflöte" - Mozart
- "Prelude in D-flat, Op. 28, No. 15 ('Raindrop')" - Chopin
- "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" - James Brown
- "Over the Rainbow" (Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg) - Olivia Newton-John
- "Christiansands" - Tricky
- "Don't Lose Your Head" - INXS
- "Miserere Mei, Deus (VV.1-4 & 17-20)" - Gregorio Allegri
- "FACE/OFF (18/Cut)". Buena Vista International. British Board of Film Classification. November 6, 1997. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
- "Face/Off (1997)". Box Office Mojo. August 29, 1997. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- Turan, Kenneth (1997-06-27). "John Travolta and Nicolas Cage get under each other's skin--literally--in John Woo's return to form, 'Face/Off'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
- Yabroff, Jennie (1997-06-27). "Gentleman with a gun". Salon.com. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
- Christopher Heard. Ten thousand bullets: the cinema of John Woo. Los Angeles: Lone Eagle Publ, 2000. ISBN 1-58065-021-X
- "Face/Off". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- Perenson, Melissa J. (2007-01-18). "New HD Disc Titles, New HD Disc Technology". PC World. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- "Face/Off (US - DVD R1 | HD | BD RA) in News > Releases at DVDActive". Dvdactive.com. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- "Breaking: Paramount Unveils Blu-ray Launch Plans". High-Def Digest. 2008-04-29. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- Ebert, Roger (1997-06-27). "Face/Off". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- Travers, Peter (2001-02-09). "Face/Off". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- Corliss, Richard (1997-06-30). "ONE DUMB SUMMER: Reviews". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
- Shulgasser, Barbara (1997-06-27). "Trading Faces". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- "Face/Off Reviews-Metacritic".
- "Face Off Original Soundtrack by John Powell". ARTISTdirect. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Review: Face/Off - John Powell". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
- "Face/Off Soundtrack CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Face/Off|
- Face/Off at the Internet Movie Database
- Face/Off at the TCM Movie Database
- Face/Off at Box Office Mojo
- Face/Off at Rotten Tomatoes
- Face/Off at Metacritic