Face/Off is directed by Chinese filmmaker John Woo, who’s well known for making one of my personal favourite action movies of all time, Hard Boiled. Face/Off was Woo’s follow up to his successful American directorial debut, Broken Arrow, which also stared John Travolta. Many people consider Face/Off a 1990’s action classic, akin to Speed, Die Hard 3 and even The Matrix, I’m not a fan of this movie what-so-ever. In fact, I consider Face/Off a very bad movie even though many people like it for some unknown, ungodly reason. Believe me, I know I’m in the minority on this one.

Why People Love Face/Off…

To this day, I cannot believe that Face/Off has such a large rating on Rotten Tomatoes. With a flabbergasting 92% from critics and an 83% from audiences, Face/Off took in bigger scores than several movies I love and think are better films. These include The Place Beyond The Pines, Inherent Vice, Killing Them Softly and Prometheus. Yes, I just said Prometheus was a better film than Face/Off.

Shot on a budget of $80 million, which was quite high back in 1997, Face/Off ended up taking in an impressive $245.7 million at the box office. While its success ended up solidifying John Woo’s career in America, since Broken Arrow was also a success in Hollywood, Face/Off is kind of like a wolf in sleeps clothing. That is, if the sleep was a good movie and the wolf was a terrible one.

Why I Don’t Like Face/Off…

If you haven’t seen Face/Off it has an absolutely ludicrous premise but one I’m sort of ok with. I can’t rag on a movie about one cop and one criminal undergoing facial removal surgery, with lasers, in order to swap each other’s faces. Face/Off isn’t a bad movie because of its premise though. Rather, Face/Off is a terrible movie because of the performances in it and for the fact that the John Wooisms in the movie just didn’t work.

Staring two of the greatest over actors in movie history, John Travolta and Nicholas Cage, whom after getting each other’s faces attached to their respective bodies, the two start acting like each other. About the only thing I like in Face/Off, and despite their terrible acting, is John Travolta’s insane Nicholas Cage impression and Nicholas Cage’s restrained John Travolta impression. After that, this movie is incredibly bad and really doesn’t have anything redeeming in it.

First, the introduction of Nic Cage’s character is atrocious. I’m talking about the infamous scene when Cage’s character disguises himself as a Priest and walks around an airport where he ends up molesting a young choir girl. Just notice Cage’s horrible facial expressions during that entire sequence. How can a movie with that scene garner a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes? It boggles my mind.

Second are the out-of-place John Wooisms that simply don’t work in Face/Off. I mean, the finale in the church with those horrible shots of doves flying around really didn’t fit. I know that’s a very typical thing John Woo does in this films but it was absolutely unnecessary and crammed into this film, which needed better acting and a better story, not a meaningless dove scene.

Third is kind of an obvious suspension of disbelief but if you know me, there aren’t many things I can suspend my disbelief over. So, you’re telling me that all I have to do is swap faces with someone and all the people who know this other person won’t become suspicious over the fact that I act like a complete stranger? I mean, Cage swaps faces with Travolta’s character and ends up having sex with his wife. You’d think she would notice another man’s body? 92% my hide!

I know this post was nit-picky and while I hate doing that, sometimes it’s necessary. In this case, I simply CANNOT UNDERSTAND how and why Face/Off gets a huge pass from critics when it’s nothing more than A BAD MOVIE with TERRIBLE performances and POOR direction.

John Woo also worked with Nic Cage on a war movie called Windtalkers that no human being should ever be subjected to. And that’s hard for me to say because I love Nic Cage and have seen some of his worst movies.