Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Face/Off (John Woo, 1997) Review

I may be a bit slow on this but remember the Oscars this year? One of the stand out moments was Idina Menzel's performance of the now Oscar winning song 'Let it Go' from Frozen. Not because of the performance itself but because of the intro given by John Travolta. We all know about Adele Dazeem now so it may be hard to take Travolta seriously but let's look at the film that made me realise his hilarious potential...and also Nicolas Cage because Nicolas Cage is great...

Sean Archer (John Travolta) is a cop who is mourning over the loss of his son who was murdered in a botched assatination by insane criminal Caster Troy (Nicolas Cage). Archer has spent his career trying to take down Troy but, after a run-in at the airport, he finally nabs him. The problem? Troy has rigged a bomb somewhere where in the city and only him and his brother (Alessandro Nivola) knows where it is. Archer takes part in a secret mission to swap his face for Troy's in order to get the infomation out of his brother. The problem now? Troy breaks out and steals Archer's face. Now it's a battle of identity and, one way or another, they have to end the rivalry. 

Easily the best thing about the film is the two leads. Caster Troy is a hilariously psychotic character that Cage and Travolta capture well. What's impressive is that, after the swap, the two actors to capture themselves very well, especially John Travolta who captures he wackiness of Nicolas Cage while the idea of Nicolas Cage trying to be Nicolas Cage (yes, it happens) is too delightful to pass up. What's also great is that there are some good action scenes. The sense of humour is also great. It's not out to be funny but the cheesy moments are worth watching. It's the good kind of cheesy that adds to the film, primarily when both actors play Castor Troy. It's almost endearing in a weird way. There are many lines to keep quoting...that's a sign of a film worth watching.

This is an example of an intriguing concept working primarily due to the great acting. If I had to complain (which I kind of do, being a critic and all), I think that the plot does become a little bit cliche since they had to show off some of the parallels of Archer and Troy to make their rivalry more meaning fall. It's a bit unnecessary but I guess parallel is the theme of the film (just look at the DVD cover). I was actually surprised that I liked John Powell's score as most 90s action films generally have weak soundtracks as they go more for atmosphere rather than memorable music (a common problem even now). Then again, after How to Train your Dragon, John Powell won me over.

Face/Off is delightfully zany 90s action fun. The two leads lift the film up high with memorable characters and run on the bizzare concept. The music is surprisingly memorable and fits the film well, the secondary cast do alright and the (maybe) unintentional humour adds to the fun cheesy style. Face/Off was the film than won me over with John Travolta and Nicolas Cage if you excuse me, I have to go find many Nicolas Cage films...he's so zany.

A bizzare concept that works thanks to two strong lead actors and great action (with some humour sprinkled in).

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