17  OCT
In order to catch him, he must become him.

Directed by  John Woo
Written by  Mike Werb, Michael Colleary
Starring:  John Travolta (Sean Archer)
Nicolas Cage (Castor Troy)
Joan Allen (Eve Archer)
Alessandro Nivola (Pollux Troy)
Gina Gershon (Sasha Hassler)
Dominique Swain (Jamie Archer)
Runtime: 138 minutes
FBI Special Agent Sean Archer (Travolta) tries to find a biological weapon placed in Los Angeles by a sadistic terrorist-for-hire and criminal mastermind named Castor Troy (Cage). Archer has hunted Troy for the last 8 years, and is consumed by revenge because Troy is responsible for the death of Archer's son. To do this, Archer must 'borrow' Troy's face using a surgical procedure to go undercover as Troy, but things go wrong when Troy assumes the identity of Archer. - Nick Hawkins

Are good actors and a lot of explosions and action scenes enough to produce a good movie? Maybe they are a good starting (or ending) point, but in the case of Face/Off they are the only good things, all the rest is just a waste of time and money.

Let's start from the plot that is based on the far too obvious and unlikely identity-swap idea, made worse by an attempt to give medical and technological support to its feasibility. However, it was quite interesting to see the classic good guy vs bad guy theme with swapped body and this is, in fact, the best part of the movie. Given the excellent performances of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, it could have been difficult to ruin the few nice scenes where the body and the personality were mixed and the relationship between the main characters and their families and friends twisted.

Unfortunately, since the beginning, there are so many holes in the plot and so many unlikely and irrational events that I haven't been able to fully enjoy the good parts. For example, when the bad guy wakes up after a coma he walks around without the face (!), smokes some cigarette, phones his friends who saves him by taking the doctor to the secret laboratory and then kills all the people who knew about the identity swap. This sounds far too absurd, even the possibility to physically swap two people's faces seems to be more realistic!

The escape from the prison, the fact that nobody but the brother of the bad guy noticed the far too evident different behaviour of the swapped people, the useless gunfires, the boat chases, nothing makes any sense and the net result is that everything becomes so silly and annoying that even the 'perfect' ending cannot make worse!

A final negative note regards the usage of the slow-motion. While it can be a good idea when used with moderation, here it is used and abused so many times that it could probably be possible to squeeze this overlong movie to less than 2 hours by playing all those slowed-down scenes to normal speed!

Rating: 5.2  *

Links:  Official Site




© Copyright Sergio Monesi, 1997-1999.
Last updated: 25 Jun 1999