Today! Because I’m ready! Ready for the big ride, baby!
Directed by John Woo
Starring John Travolta, Nicholas Cage, Joan Allen, Gina Gershon, Dominique Swain, Alessandro Nivola, Colm Feore, Nick Cassavetes, John Carroll Lynch, CCH Pounder, Margaret Cho, Thomas Jane, Danny Masterson, Steve Hytner, Harve Presnell, Robert Wisdom
A ludicrously over-the-top action thriller, Face/Off is almost non-stop style over substance, explosions and gunfights over science, acting dialed up to 15, and doves – oh, so many doves. John Woo, baby! 1997 was reaching the end of this sort of action movie, a staple of the decade. An extension of ’80s action films, which mostly focused on blood and bullets and pointing a camera at it, the ’90s brought us slow-motion battles and vibrant fireballs and interspersed doves. Well, okay, that is just a Woo thing.
This movie doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t, and considering you’ve got Joan Allen – not exactly a regular to this genre – slumming it along side recent Oscar winner Cage and nominee Travolta, it’s not like this couldn’t have been confused for a pedigree film, a high art actioner with depth and meaning. It is not! The internal logic is so thin that they blast right through any questions that arise, any hows left floating in that bin with Sean Archer’s disembodied face. And who cares? Travolta barely tries to do a Cage impression – barely – and Cage tries only slightly harder doing Travolta, and so to cover this up – mass punching and explosions! What fun! And it’s just twisty and complicated enough to keep the movie barreling along.
Awards?? Get out of here! Despite having some decent reviews in its day, Face/Off was not made to occupy anyone’s mantel space with hardware (even if it did pull down some MTV Awards, which, come on, don’t count at all). But let’s at least acknowledge the movie’s Best Parental Villain Advice, especially valuable and timely today. A boy gets handsy with you, stabbing him might not be a bad course of action! Boys have gotta learn!