When the current cinema film “Massive Talent” discusses the best films of all time, this not only results in a surprising (and deserved) third-place title, but also in the naming of the two best films – at least for Nic Cage superfan Javi (Pedro Pascal). Before “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” comes at the very top with the “Face/Off – In the Body of the Enemy”.
And while there’s a bit of the deliberate exaggeration befitting a comedy about Nicolas Cage, Javi doesn’t go far wrong. Because “Face/Off” is not only one of the best films with Nicolas Cage, but also one of the best action films of all time.
You can convince yourself of this again today on TV. And precisely because Maestro John Woo’s action film is so often only shown there in cut form, we are only too happy to point it out today’s uncut TV broadcast. RTL ZWEI shows “Face/Off – In the Body of the Enemy” on Friday, July 1, at 10:30 p.m.
If you don’t prefer commercial breaks and/or original sound, you can also stream the action hit with a subscription to Disney+.
» “Face/Off – In the Body of the Enemy” on Disney+*
For years, Sean Archer (John Travolta) has been chasing the feared terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage), who in turn kills his pursuer’s son in an assassination attempt. But when the Troy finally snaps, that’s just the beginning. Because the terrorist, who is now in a coma, has planted a bomb with a timer. In order to determine their whereabouts, Archer must use new technology and surgery to have Troy’s face attached and assume his identity. But the terrorist awakens from the coma shortly thereafter, assumes the identity of the lawman and also kills everyone who knows about the role change. It spreads into Archer’s family and job. An explosive cat-and-mouse game begins under different circumstances.
Director John Woo doesn’t even bother to explain the absurd premise behind the role reversal. A few chunks thrown in will have to do, because then we’ll focus on the impact of that. and this leads to a top-class duel between two exalted actors in top form.
Again, there was a behind-the-scenes decision that will benefit the final film: action heavyweights Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were originally slated to play the lead roles. But Woo made it clear that the parts need less muscle and more expression. And Cage and Travolta convey that with every fiber of their bodies. The two already great mimes have seldom been as good as they are here.
Besides that, of course, there is the action. John Woo has earned his reputation as one of the best action directors of all time with his Hong Kong masterpieces like The Killer. In the Body of the Enemy is his best Hollywood film. Explosions, shootouts and fights not only provide grandiose and thrilling visuals, but are always an integral part of the story – also because Woo has retained an important part of his signature.
But his best films are always melodramas and too in “Face/Off” there is always room for feelings and real, not ironically broken emotions – often underlined with deliberately grand gestures. Here, too, the top-class ensemble comes into play, which, in addition to Cage and Travolta, also includes Joan Allen, Gina Gershon and Nick Cassavetes.
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