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review by Ren C.


Rated R

Studio: Paramount

Running Time: 140 Minutes

Starring John Travolta, Nicolas Cage

Written by Mike Webb and Michael Colleary

Directed by John Woo


Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround, French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, English and Spanish Subtitles

"It's like looking in a mirror, only not." That line basically sums up the major plot premise of John Woo's "Face/Off." The movie revolves around FBI Agent Sean Archer (John Travolta), whose son was killed several years ago by renegade terrorist Castor Troy (Nicholas Cage). Since that time, Archer has been hell-bent on bringing in Troy at any cost.

The question is, how much do you have to know someone before you can really become him or her? This is the question that Archer is posed with, as, in order to bring Troy in once and for all, he must literally become him. The concept is that through a very technologically advanced surgery, Archer can have his face removed, and have it replaced with Troy's. However, with this done, there is nothing to stop Troy from becoming Archer, and turning the tables.

While the premise may be somewhat far-fetched, the movie more than made up for it with explanation, to the point where it seemed believable that this could really happen. In addition, Cage and Travolta are both excellent on both sides of the fence, to the point where I forgot that their character traits were different. By that, I really believed that Troy had become Archer and vice versa. The supporting cast, including Joan Allen as Archer's wife, also fill out their roles very well adding to the overall feel of the movie.

The acting is just one good point to this movie. At heart, this is a good, old-fashioned action movie. The movie has some very well conceived and well-executed action scenes which, rather than disrupting the flow of the plot, only add to it. The suspense aspect to the movie is also very compelling, as watching the movie for the first time; I literally had no idea what was going to happen next. Overall, this could become one of the classic action movies given a few years for historical purposes.

Presented in anamorphic widescreen, the transfer is very crisp and clear, as it should be for a movie so recent. The colors are bright and vibrant; with the darker colors being more muted and subdued. There are few to no artifacts, and no pixelation. Considering this was one of Paramount's earlier discs, the transfer holds up very well.

Again, the disc comes through in this instance. The Dolby 5.1 sounds very good, with a lot of explosions, gunshots, etc. to test the system. Not a reference quality disc, necessarily, but certainly one that will exercise the sound system. The dialogue and sound effects work very well together to create an enjoyable sound experience.

Yawn. While Paramount has started to come through on some of their more recent titles by including more features on them, this, like I previously stated, was one of their initial efforts and thus is fairly devoid of anything extra. The theatrical trailer is the only special feature here, and while it is definitely an entertaining trailer, I would have liked to see something more. There was a making of produced which would have been a nice inclusion, as would have some interviews, commentaries, or whatever else Paramount could have put together.

This definitely ranks fairly high on my list of favorite '90s movies. The movie is an entertaining thrill-ride, and is presented very well on this disc. While the lack of features is somewhat disappointing, it is almost understandable considering when the disc was released. There isn't a special edition anywhere on the horizon, so if you want the movie, this disc is the route to go. High recommendation, despite the relative lack of features.

(4.5/5, NOT included in final score)




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