Blind Spot 91: FACE/OFF

Each year when I make my Blind Spot selections I try to pick a variety to keep it fun for me and hopefully for my readers. There’s some international and arthouse favorites. Some critical darlings and box office successes I’ve missed and also some cult classics with a devoted following. This month’s pick, 1997’s Face/Off is the latter and I’m happy to finally check it off my list. It has some problems, mostly with pacing, but the premise is entertaining enough and the 2 lead performances are so good that it works.

Face/Off is directed by Hong Kong legend John Woo, and I must be honest it’s the first of his films I have seen. My friend said she would give me a list of Hong Kong action to watch so I hopefully will make up for that but you can definitely feel his action roots in this film. The action is guttural and brutal with no punches being pulled. Even children and teens are put in peril with shocking results.

We also have the  entertaining premise of Nic Cage and John Travolta switching faces in a new technology (the former is a ‘criminal mastermind’ Castor Troy, and the latter is the FBI agent, Sean Archer, who’s son was murdered by Troy. )Both actors are up for the camp factor of portraying the other’s personality traits and ticks and these antics are the best part of the movie.

Unfortunately it is also way too long and the premise starts to lose its novelty after a bit and things start to feel repetitive. This movie would be so much better at a 90-100 minute mark not 138. However, the supporting cast is also excellent with the likes of Joan Allen, Gina Gershon, James Denton (I’ve interviewed him!) and Margaret Cho.

All that said, Face/Off is a fun ride and when it works it really does work. I know there have been long talks of doing a sequel and I don’t know if that would be successful given the age of Cage and Travolta but a spinoff with them as “mentors” could be fun.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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