Face/Off (1997) – )In “Face/Off,” FBI Special Agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) is obsessed with capturing the elusive terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) after Troy kills Archer’s son during a botched assassination attempt. When Troy falls into a coma, Archer devises an audacious plan to undergo a groundbreaking face transplant procedure to take on Troy’s appearance and infiltrate his criminal world. However, the tables turn when Troy wakes up, takes on Archer’s face, and assumes his identity. The two adversaries are now trapped in each other’s bodies and must navigate a deadly game of cat and mouse while trying to regain their original identities.

Face/Off (1997)

Director: John Woo Other films they are known for: “Hard Boiled” (1992), “A Better Tomorrow” (1986), “Mission: Impossible II” (2000)

Writer: Mike Werb and Michael Colleary Other films they are known for: Mike Werb – “The Mask” (1994), “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001) Michael Colleary – “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001), “Firehouse Dog” (2007)

Release Date: June 27, 1997

Domestic Box Office: The movie grossed approximately $112 million domestically.

The Good:

  • High-octane action sequences and intense performances from John Travolta and Nicolas Cage.
  • Engaging and original concept exploring identity, duality, and moral ambiguity.
  • Director John Woo’s signature style of stylized action and slow-motion sequences.

The Bad:

  • Some critics found the plot to be overly convoluted and implausible.
  • The movie’s premise requires a suspension of disbelief, which may not resonate with all audiences.


  • John Travolta as FBI Special Agent Sean Archer Other films: “Pulp Fiction” (1994), “Grease” (1978), “Saturday Night Fever” (1977)
  • Nicolas Cage as Castor Troy Other films: “Leaving Las Vegas” (1995), “National Treasure” series (2004, 2007), “Con Air” (1997)
  • Joan Allen as Dr. Eve Archer (Sean Archer’s wife) Other films: “The Contender” (2000), “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004), “Nixon” (1995)
  • Alessandro Nivola as Pollux Troy (Castor Troy’s brother) Other films: “Jurassic Park III” (2001), “American Hustle” (2013), “Selma” (2014)
  • Gina Gershon as Sasha Hassler (Castor Troy’s girlfriend) Other films: “Bound” (1996), “Showgirls” (1995), “Cocktail” (1988)

“I want to take his face… off.” – Castor Troy


  • “Face/Off is an adrenaline-fueled roller coaster ride, thanks to John Woo’s masterful direction and the captivating performances of Travolta and Cage.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.
  • “The movie’s audacious premise is both its strength and weakness, resulting in an over-the-top action spectacle that may not satisfy everyone.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.
  • “John Woo’s action sequences are a visual feast, but the plot’s implausibility and lack of subtlety hinder the film’s potential.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times.
  • “Travolta and Cage deliver tour-de-force performances, playing each other’s characters with impressive intensity and nuance.” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly.
  • “Face/Off is a stylistic action extravaganza that embraces its absurdity, offering a thrilling and unique cinematic experience.” – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times.

Cinematic Importance: Face/Off (1997) holds significance in the action film genre for its innovative and daring premise, as well as John Woo’s distinct directorial style. The movie pushed the boundaries of action filmmaking, blending high-concept sci-fi elements with intense gunfights and fight sequences. The face transplant concept, although highly implausible, introduced audiences to a novel plot device exploring themes of identity, duality, and moral ambiguity.

The film’s success was largely attributed to the electrifying performances of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, who skillfully portrayed each other’s characters with compelling authenticity. “Face/Off” remains a memorable entry in both actors’ careers and showcases their versatility as performers.

Overall, “Face/Off” has left a lasting impact on the action movie landscape and has become a cult classic, admired for its stylish action sequences, memorable quotes, and the audacity of its central premise.

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