Hong Kong action director stalwart John Woo transitioned to Hollywood movies in the 90s. His kinetic style, use of slow-mo, and many, many doves, quickly became an oft ‘homaged’ technique in the action genre from then on. But back in 1997, it was something revelatory. Combine that with the resurgence of John Travolta’s career, Nicholas Cage’s absolutely magical rebirth as an action star, an off the wall, crazier than Cage high-concept script, and you have a recipe for a great night at the movies.

"Its outlandish and convoluted premise is sold to the teeth by its two marquee names"

Sean Archer (John Travolta) is the lead investigator for an FBI crack investigative team, chasing a domestic terrorist named Castor Troy (Nicholas Cage). Archer has a particular intense investment in capturing Troy: he is the man responsible for the death of his little boy. In the first act, thanks to a bonkers fight in an aircraft hangar, Archer succeeds, and Troy is captured. But Troy isn’t done. Despite now being in a coma, Troy had planted a bomb that will unleash major carnage somewhere in a highly populated area and none of his affiliates will talk. Some other secret science crack team in the FBI convince Archer to pose as Troy to find the bomb before it’s too late. They will take Archer’s face off and surgically graft the comatose Troy’s face onto Archer’s! It goes off without a hitch… all except having his face cut off wakes Troy up. Whoops. Troy makes the secret science folk graft Archer’s in storage face onto his, then proceeds to kill them. So, the good guy now looks like the bad guy and the bad guy—you get the idea. Archer now has to complete his original black ops mission, with no one who knew about it still alive, as well as convince his family and his staff that he is not Troy. Troy, a domestic terrorist, is living it up playing a senior positioned FBI agent and a family man. Who will win this bat-shit crazy game of cat and mouse?Face/Off

This super high-concept story breezes through thanks to the talents of its two leads. Both Cage and Travolta eat up the scenery, playing each other's characters. The set-pieces are bombastic, operatic, filled with hyperbolic action and thrilling. The drama ranges from heart-wrenching (the opening title assassination attempt scene) to daytime soap opera bad (the family stuff). The entire film rests and succeeds in the main narrative—two opposing forces trying to overcome a disadvantage to attain their goals.

The go to description for this would be to set your brain to neutral and just have fun. But that backhanded, it’s just a popcorn film, ‘compliment’ is doing it a disservice. This is very cleverly executed and something that could easily have been a pile of shit. Its outlandish and convoluted premise is sold to the teeth by its two marquee names and only wavers when they get bogged down in domestic dramas. This is a great action movie, a favourite of mine actually, and I cannot recommend it enough.

4/5 stars



4k details divider

4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray Edition

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- December 12, 2024
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K region-free; blu-ray locked to Region A


Yeah, this is gravy. This is a native 2160p scan of the original camera negatives and looks really good. It’s not perfect but a big uptick from previous releases. The one thing I noticed in several darker shots was a lack of clarity/nuance in the shadows. It’s nit-picky shit, but I did notice it. Dolby VISION/HDR10 really shines, especially in the opening and finales daytime shots. The gleam of the aircraft’s, the boats, the beautiful skies—all blazed off my display. Colour timing is faithful yet enhanced. Contrast and scene delineation is noticeably better. Troy’s cartoonish choices of suits really come alive. The explosions and the slow-mo doves are rendered beautifully. This is top shelf stuff.


This is a fantastic DTS-HD 5.1 surround mix (Also a stereo mix included in DTS-HD). But it’s reuse. Distributors take note (Like they give a stuff about my little write ups!): I will die on the hill that if you provide an updated picture, it deserves an updated 7.1 mic to accompany it! I will remove 1 point from my audio when you don’t. Ineffective tantrum over, this is great sound: heavy base, rocking environmental surround, crisp clean and centred dialogue. Really, really, really good mix.


Three commentaries on the region free 4K disc, one new from critics, the others legacy entries from the past (re use). The included region-locked blu ray has a bounty of legacy features from previous releases—nothing new there. Comes in a snazzy new art slipcover design and has a reversible inside for the disc case.


  • With critics Mike Leeder and Arne Venema (on 4k and blu-ray disc)
  • With John Woo and writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary (on 4k and blu-ray disc)
  • With writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary for the 10th anniversary of Face/Off (on 4k and blu-ray disc)

Special Features:

  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes
  • The Light and the Dark: The Making of Face/Off
  • John Woo: A Life in Pictures
  • Trailer

4k rating divider

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars

Film Details


MPAA Rating: R.
138 mins
: John Woo
Mike Werb; Michael Colleary
John Travolta; Nicolas Cage; Joan Allen
: Action | Crime
In order to trap him, he must become him.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Lies, deceit, mixed messages... this is turning into a real marriage."
Theatrical Distributor:
Touchstone Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 27, 1997
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 12, 2023.
Synopsis: Obsessed with bringing terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) to justice, FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) tracks down Troy, who has boarded a plane in Los Angeles. After the plane crashes and Troy is severely injured, possibly dead, Archer undergoes surgery to remove his face and replace it with Troy's. As Archer tries to use his disguise to elicit information about a bomb from Troy's brother, Troy awakes from a coma and forces the doctor who performed the surgery to give him Archer's face.