Face/OffSunday, June 22, 2008
The film begins with John Travolta as Sean Archer and Nicolas Cage as Castor Troy. Archer is a tightwad government agent whose idea of a good time is breaking balls, crying and grieving over his dead son.
The opening scene sees Archer with his young son Michael on a merry-go-round. Twinkly music plays and father and son laugh, and you immediately know something bad is going to happen, because they’re enjoying themselves far too much. Then
One should never expect subtlety from a film that’s called Face/Off, but the complete lack of restraint in the opening scenes pleases me a great deal. We see Castor Troy plant a bomb in an exhibition centre while dressed as a priest. And then when his work is done he comes across a choir singing Handel. With a big crucifix around his neck, Cage then proceeds to clap his hands and headbang. And then he sees a girl he likes. He talks to her for a bit and then grabs her arse. He then makes a face like he’s splattered his robe – he’s experienced an earth-shattering orgasm.
But then a bit later Castor Troy takes a flight on a private jet. Cage, for some inexplicable reason, starts talking in a fake British accent, saying he’s bored and that he wants the flight to take off. And then he spots what he thinks is a flight attendant (it’s really an undercover FBI agent). He gets the woman to sit on his lap and then asks her to suck his tongue, which she enthusiastically does. He’s kind of like a rock and roll star. However, there is one disturbing thing about this tongue sucking.
The action scene that follows sees Archer try and prevent
Therefore, with Cage getting to do so much fun stuff, you initially feel a bit sorry for Travolta. He has to play a humourless knob. I mean, there’s one scene, after they catch
But then we have the face switch. Of course the reasoning for the whole thing is complete bollocks. Basically, with
Well, yes they can, because now Castor Troy is living Sean Archer’s life. That includes living in his house, bringing up his daughter and fucking his wife. And the film has great fun with this. We see the Travoltered Troy woo Archer’s wife and treat her to a candlelit dinner. We also see him ogle her arse. She’s going to have more fun with him than she ever did with her real husband.
And there’s a great scene where the Travoltered Troy visits the Caged Archer in prison. Of course, Archer is rather surprised. And then
And after the beginning of the film it’s fun to see Travolta unleashed. He can eat up the scenery just as well as Cage. And there’s lots of comedy to be had in the fact that briefly this super-criminal becomes the ideal husband and father. He fucks his wife, which Archer hadn’t been doing, and then when Archer’s daughter begins to get harassed by a date, he kicks his foot through a Corvette window and beats the guy up. And then later he gives his daughter a knife for protection. Very briefly they’re a happy family.
But one thing puzzles me about the face/off operation. We hear that as well as changing faces, the operation will take care of love handles and a microchip in the throat will alter the voice. But what about cock? Did that get changed? And if not, wouldn’t Archer’s wife have noticed that her husband suddenly turned either into a donkey or a hamster? But I guess they could have the same size dong. But at the same time, I’m willing to bet that
But although the film is funny and incredibly violent, it’s also rather sappy. Archer, now with Cage’s face, has to seek refuge with
But if there was a competition between the two for who best adapts to their new environment,
But the good times can’t last for ever and eventually Archer’s wife finds out that she’s been getting porked by her son’s murderer. Cue doves, slow-motion and lots of guns.
The final action scene is a reminder of how much more fun action scenes are when stunts are used instead of CGI. We see speedboats race through piers and we see men hanging off boats, and even though sometimes the stunt doubles are far too obvious, it allows you to enjoy the scene much more than you would if it were just computer pixels.
But even for a silly film, the ending is ridiculous. Somehow, even though all the evidence for the operation is lost and all the medical staff are dead, Archer’s real face is restored to him. Phew. That was incredibly convenient.
And then on top of this, you have the scene where Archer returns home. It’s filmed through a dreamy haze, and then after he’s hugged his family and his daughter apologises for shooting him (the poor girl gets awful confused when she sees her dad with someone else’s face), he brings Troy’s son in with him – a readymade replacement for his dead son. It’s incredibly sappy, but like the rest of the film, I fall for it.
But still, I can’t help but contemplate all the psychiatry that these characters will need. First of all, you have a woman sleeping with her son’s murderer. Then you have a daughter shooting her dad. Then you have a daughter getting a gun pointed at her and getting licked by a man who looks like her dad. Then you have a man killing a man who has his face. You’d be so fucked up after that. But then again, apparently a cute moptop who’s the spawn of your son’s murderer will make everything a-ok.