TV & FILM
brian-mcgee - June 27, 2017
If you like your action movies with a ton of flash, absolutely absurd scenarios, and a lot of hammy acting, Face/Off is your Mount Everest. Twenty years ago today, John Woo's third English language film—following the similarly sublime Hard Target and Broken Arrow—made its way to American theaters and gave us one of the most insanely enjoyable movies of the 90s.
Anchored by two of the most flamboyantly over-the-top performances in cinema history from notorious hams John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, Face/Off became an instant cult classic: A guilty pleasure that you didn't need to feel all that guilty about enjoying. Here are some great moments and tidbits from the film in celebration of its 20th Anniversary...
While it's almost impossible to imagine this film with any other actors in the lead roles, there were dozens of other actors attached to play cop Sean Archer and crook Castor Troy at some point in the film's development. Here are some of the other pairings that were considered: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sly Stallone, Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, Patrick Swayze and Kurt Russell, and Harrison Ford and Michael Douglas—who got an Executive Producer credit on the final film. Thankfully we got Travolta and Cage who both brought the crazy. (Image via Listal)
Even more ridiculous than picturing this film without its stars is picturing it without director John Woo's unmistakable stamp on it, but there was a time when he wasn't attached. Rob Cohen, who would go on to direct The Fast and the Furious and XxX, among many other duds, was the first director attached to the project. When he became convinced that the visual effects had not yet reached the point that he could make the film "believable," he departed to direct Dragonheart instead. Woo then signed on and we got a much better film as a result.
One of Woo's biggest contributions to the film was the removal of any science fiction elements, as he preferred to ground the film's ridiculous events in reality as much as possible. This meant that the film's face swapping tech was comically ahead of its time as the first actual successful face transplant didn't occur until 2012, fifteen years after the film was released. Richard Norris (above) was a man who blew his own face off with a shotgun in—strangely enough—1997, and he finally received a newly constructed face in 2012. (Image via Huffington Post)
Back in the mid-aughts, Paramount backed the wrong horse in the HD format wars, choosing to release their films on HD-DVD rather than Blu-ray. When HD-DVD went belly up in 2008, Face/Off was the first Paramount film to get a release on Blu-ray alongside another Nic Cage flick, Next, and the Jerry Seinfeld meme-worthy classic Bee Movie.
What are some of your favorite Face/Off moments? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below!