It's highly probable that famed action-director John ("Hard-Boiled") Woo has been taking the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong really hard. His new film, "Face/Off," certainly looks like the product of a man who can't think straight.
First of all, you have FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) leaving a trail of dead agents, maimed bystanders and burning cars in his quest to hunt down his arch-nemesis, Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage), the man who killed his son. You'd think someone at the Bureau would eventually begin to question the cost of this personal vendetta, especially after Archer's repeated "send more agents" memos to headquarters.
Then there's the whole face-swapping fiasco. The pretense of the face-swapping is that Archer needs to find out from Castor's brother, Pollux (Alessandro Nivola), where their big bomb is hidden. For some reason, Archer doesn't want this biological weapon to mess up L.A. The feds tear the face off the comatose Castor, do a crapload of plastic surgery, and suddenly we're supposed to believe that Travolta is inside the body of Cage. You know, as long as we're going to be violating people's civil rights, why not just go the direct route and hook up Pollux's testicles to battery cables, instead of switching faces and running around being Mr. Sneaky?
The less-than-brilliant Archer ends up in prison, leaving the suddenly conscious Castor to take Archer's face, thus giving John Travolta the only reason any God-fearing man could ever have for doing a two-hour William Shatner impression. As with any John Woo film, this plot is advanced with subtle narrative techniques such as flying bullets, large explosions and mountains of dead cops.
I say forget the face-swapping scheme. Let the bomb explode and cross your fingers in the hope that the cloud of deadly gas floats into John Woo's back yard.
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