FACE/OFF (1997)

face off cage travolta


Chris was in the mood to watch a legitimately good action movie, and the first thing that came to my mind (that neither of us had seen) was Face/Off. I think Chris was sort of surprised that I thought it was supposed to be legitimately good, but we both wanted to see it so we went for it. A pretty good decision all-around.

What kind of struck me about Face/Off is how so many elements at play in the movie would never work now. It came out almost exactly 16 years ago, even though it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. First of all, the public (and theatrical) personas of Nicolas Cage and John Travolta have changed so much, I don’t think anyone would take them seriously if this movie came out now. This was back when Nicolas Cage could still be a badass, rather than just being a weird knockoff of a badass. He does a great job of being scary and funny, something he desperately still tries to pull off now but just can’t anymore (thanks largely in part to the shitty projects he chooses now, though). And maybe it’s just me, but I just can’t look at John Travolta without seeing his weird plastic surgery and Scientologyness. This was also one of John Woo’s first big US productions, so things like having a gunfight in a church among white doves flying around was probably a lot less cliche in 1997 than it looks now. At least I’m assuming so, because it definitely looks a little silly now.

I will say that Face/Off deserves a lot of credit for not being confusing. The synopsis of the movie from IMDb (“A revolutionary medical technique allows an undercover agent to take the physical appearance of a major criminal and infiltrate his organization.”) makes it sound like it’ll be extremely hard to follow, but it’s really not. And considering how many simply-plotted movies we’ve seen that are super confusing, I think that’s definitely an accomplishment.

So, I still stand by Face/Off being a legitimately good action movie. I mean, it’s no Taken . . . but still definitely worth watching.


I’ve been wanting to see this movie since I was a kid. I know I’ve seen parts of this, some of the prison scenes looked familiar, but I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy watching it as much as I did. I think the difficult thing about watching this movie now, is that we know how weird both John Travolta and Nicolas Cage are. In no way does anyone go out of their way to watch any movie with either of these actors now.

A big part of this movie journey with Elizabeth has been loving when a movie says its title in its own film. Face/Off does this often. And with a movie like Face/Off I would think that that would be difficult. But John Woo knows what he’s doing I guess.

One thought on “FACE/OFF (1997)

  1. If you guys like John Woo and like John Travolta way back when check out Broken Arrow, its worth a watch!

    As far as both of the actors go, they sure have fallen off their horses but with both of them I embrace that they are a little crazy and odd. It makes them a lot easier to watch and have a good laugh at their movies. Face/Off was excellent and it is definitely a unique movie for sure!

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