Face/Off (1997)

FaceOff_(1997_film)_posterBy: Jenna Zine & Larry Crane (Six Pack) –

Welcome to Pillow Talk, a He Said/ She Said review of films! We’re a married couple trying to navigate sharing the Netflix queue while balancing our diverging tastes in movie genres. Sometimes we agree – and sometimes one of us loses our place in line!

FBI Special Agent Sean Archer sets his sights on bringing down international terrorist Castor Troy before the bomb he planted in downtown LA detonates. Did I mention Castor also murdered Sean’s son? Revenge is served blazing hot, with endless action scenes to prove it!

A Toast

The film opens in grainy, dreamy slow-mo to the joyful scene of Sean Archer (John Travolta) treating his young son, Michael, to a carousel ride. Unfortunately uber-bad guy Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) is lurking in the bushes aiming a rifle at Sean’s head. Why is he out to shoot Archer? The reason is never revealed! In an additional bummer, Castor turns out to be a terrible shot and he ends up killing Sean’s son. That is one way to get yourself on the FBI’s Most Wanted list!

He Said: Ooh, the title even has a slash in it. You know it’s gonna be good.

She Said: It’s hard to remember when the combo of Travolta and Cage would’ve been a box office draw.

He Said: I think everyone’s stoned. They’re moving so slow.

She Said: That’s your answer to everything.

He Said: This is ridiculous. So far it makes no sense at all.


You will take this mustache ride. 

Beer Two

Fast forward to six years later. Sean is a broken man, but still a very driven and dedicated FBI agent. Meanwhile, Castor is still an asshole. He crosses paths with Sean, sparking a massive chase that culminates at an airport and involves an airstrip that must be about 50 miles long.

He Said: Goddamn, this is silly. Apparently they’re on the longest runway in the world. Haven’t they been trying to take off in that plane for like, 10 minutes? Wow – Archer and Troy face off! Get it? It’s like the movie already happened and we’re watching the post-action of a story we’re supposed to know.

She Said: I appreciate the action, but I wouldn’t mind a few words with my movie. There’s so much action that I’m bored. Also, whoever did the sound for this film should’ve been fired. They’re obviously setting off fireworks to mimic explosions and it sounds like they’re setting off fireworks!

He Said: Wait. Is this the beginning of Team America?

team america

When it comes to defeating terrorists, Team America nails it 50 percent of the time, every time. [Photo credit]

Beer Three

Sean Archer catches and inadvertently kills Castor Troy. Or so he thinks! A super, duper secret arm of the FBI reveals to Sean that they’re actually keeping Castor alive – and then try to convince Sean to undergo surgery to take on Castor’s face so that he can find out where that damn ticking bomb is!

He Said: Hey man, can I borrow your face? Face off? Face on!

She Said: God, I do not want to see Nic Cage’s hairy pecs. What kind of filth are we watching?

He Said: It’s preposterous. Also, everyone sure seems to sleep with a lot of lights on.

She Said: It’s so funny. The surgery is beyond impossible. I mean, obviously. This should’ve been called “Dumb and Dumbfounded.” God, this is a lot of detail.

He Said: I know. We’ve got no idea what’s going on in the beginning and now we’ve got to watch hours of voice analysis.

She Said: Did we just watch that man massage Travolta’s face? That’s a nice coworker! Whoops – no pun regarding recent allegations intended. By the way, when is this bomb set to go off? Three years from now? Everyone seems to have a lot of time on his or her hands…

travoltas face

John, I think you forgot something…

Beer Four

The insanely implausible surgery is a success! Sean Archer now has Castor Troy’s face – and promptly gets thrown in jail. Way to waste an opportunity, dude! Meanwhile a faceless Castor awakes to find he’s missing something mighty important and decides to try on Sean’s visage for size. [Cage is now playing Travolta’s character and vice versa.]

She Said: So the good guy is now the bad guy, who’s still good but stuck in the bad guy’s body? Damn – I knew I shouldn’t have smoked that weed. I mean… drank all that beer. Did I mention that for this review we live in Washington, where marijuana is legal?

He Said: So the Faux Travolta diffuses the bomb and starts acting all cocky. It’s such a total personality switch that you’d think the flippin’ FBI would be able to figure it out! Was this the year they decided not to have plots in movies? Because they got in the way?

She Said: What I can’t figure out is how there’s more of this movie left to watch. It. Is. Endless. Action.

He Said: Yep. That’s what [director] John Woo does. Sparks – they are a flyin’. I suppose this movie makes sense to somebody.

She Said: Too bad we’re not those somebodies!

cage & travolta

Hide and seek! Whoever wins gets top billing.

Beer Five

Sean Archer is now a bad guy (Castor’s body with Sean’s face) and he’s getting away with a bunch of naughty stuff (including taking a roll in the hay with Sean’s wife, Joan Allen as Dr. Eve Archer) that nobody calls him on because he’s in the FBI, damn it! Meanwhile Sean Archer is now Castor Troy (you know the drill) and this upright citizen has to learn how to act bad real fast… or risk blowing his cover.

She Said: Sooo… Sean’s wife has sex with the man she assumes is her husband. And I understand that she believes him to be her husband. I mean, these doctors have gone to a lot of trouble to get the details right. But I must say – wouldn’t she notice that his junk was different? It’s not like they did a penis transplant.

He Said: I was just thinking the same thing! You would notice a different dick, wouldn’t you?

She Said: I believe, given the intimate nature of our relationship that I would know if there was a different penis in my bed – no matter how much the face looked the same. Maybe Dr. Eve Archer just wanted to get some!

He Said: Promise you’ll never sleep with a terrorist masquerading as me.

She Said: I promise.


I really like your new moves, tiger.

Beer Six

Shit gets epic. The faux Castor Troy goes to the hideout only bad guys know about where he meets Troy’s sidepiece and, in a lovely twist upon twists, his young son. The FBI shows up and there is a bad guy shootout. Then a boat chase. Then gunplay at a funeral. And then another boat chase. Or something like that. Oh, and Sean gets back to being Sean and adopts Castor’s son. Because of course!

He Said: Subtitled “The Movie That Never Ends.”

She Said: Maybe they should’ve called it “Overwrought.” I’m sorry about this. Now I know why you never “have time” to do these!

He Said: I don’t know why they bothered changing the faces. I don’t care either way. I didn’t know a movie could be so tedious. Did people go see this?

She Said: I remember it being popular. But I’m having a hard time recalling why.

He Said: Can we watch this again as soon as it’s over just to make sure it sucks?

She Said: Only if we can drink twice as much.


 Six Pack

There are some crazy moments and it’s cool watching John Travolta mimic Nicolas Cage and vice versa. But, much like Travolta and Cage, this movie has not aged well.


Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time there’s a slow-mo action sequence.

Take a Drink: every time Castor Troy does something nuts. Bonus Shot: for the scene with his billowing coat that looks like a cape.

Take a Drink: every time Sean runs his hand over the face of a loved one like a bizarre claw.

Take a Drink: every time you wonder what in the hell is going on… or why.

Do a Shot: for the gross-out scene when Castor-as-Sean hits on his teenage daughter!

About Jenna Zine

Jenna Zine is a writer, unashamed Bachelor franchise recapper & live-tweeter (@JennaZine1), drummer, and occasional standup comic. She's probably somewhere complaining about her bangs. Find more at www.jennazine.com

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