FACE/OFF Provides Plenty of Thrills and Feels

So John Travolta is playing a version of Nicholas Cage who is playing John Travolta. On the other hand, we have Nicholas Cage playing a version of John Travolta who is playing Nicholas Cage. Yes, it gets pretty trippy. But wow, is this fun to watch!

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John Woo is a master at directing over-the-top, insane, outrageous action sequences, and FACE/OFF certainly does not lack in this arena. The editing (Steven Kemper/Christian Wagner) throughout the film, both in terms of technical and narrative efficiency, is superb. The cinematography is ostentatious when looking to the framing and camera movement, especially during the action scenes. It fully leans into the absurd, unbridled nature of the film as a whole. And the Oscar-nominated sound design (sound editors Mark P. Stoeckinger and Per Hallberg) bristles with kinetic energy as every round fires and any piece of equipment with a gas tank finds a way to explode.

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Even in the midst of the practically cartoonish plot and technical style of this movie, there is a moving, poignant soul at the core of the story. The bizarre and almost indescribable performances from Cage and Travolta make this work. The argument could be made that this is a movie primarily about the power of familial dedication and focused commitment to our loved ones. These themes are explored in an incredibly non-traditional fashion, but those are the foundational messages nonetheless.

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I honestly was not expecting to be involved this deeply in the emotion of FACE/OFF, but I was indeed affected on this level. This provided a wonderful counterbalance to the silliness of the excessive action and (quite literally) unbelievable main plot. I am not very familiar with the filmography of John Woo, but this feature definitely makes me want to take a deeper dive into his career as filmmaker.

Grade: A-

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L-R (Foreground): Nicholas Cage, John Woo, and John Travolta on the set of FACE/OFF.

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