peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2023 12 04 FaceOff

Face/Off (1997)

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Prompted by Adam Fleet's recent retrospective. This is, as promised, completely bonkers. Thanks John Woo! A lot of it is fan service: Nicolas Cage as a terrorist, in it for lolz, goes a bit further over the edge than FBI agent John Travolta. The latter is asked to send himself up, drawing attention to his famous chin and foot massage technique. Joan Allen is the recipient of that massage and notionally makes it with both characters but really it's all Travolta. I found myself laughing at how ludicrous the whole show was — face transplant technology! — what a gas. The more obviously derivative — the Mexican standoff from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, the birds-as-distraction, the inability for anyone to shoot straight when it mattered, the explosions like the world is made of fire — were disappointing: to have come this far and then overstuff it with remade bits of a mediocre James Bond and authentic Hollywood schmaltz was a waste.

Not a lot was asked of Dominique Swain and she did not pass up an opportunity to overact. Gina Gershon and Nick Cassavetes, brother and sister in crime, were a bit more disciplined, a bit more willing to believe.

Roger Ebert: three stars but the review reads like he got into it more than that. Janet Maslin: the Lolita with Swain in it had yet to be released.