Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures/Touchstone Pictures
Some ideas when you hear them sound ridiculous, preposterous and also utterly brilliant. Such as the plot of John Woo’s 1997 extravaganza, Face/Off. In no way should it work. In may ways, it does. Yet it’s such a confounding and blisteringly confident film, that it ultimately succeeds. The mere idea of attempting to mine that ground, to dig out another worthy gem, is equally preposterous, ridiculous and foolhardy. Unless you get someone who has made a career of spinning (mostly) gold out of such things. In which case, tapping director Adam Wingard, might be a brilliant move.
The notion of a Face/Off remake isn’t exactly a new thing. Thought it isn’t exactly super old. Back in September of 2019 (eons ago), Variety had a story that Paramount was gunning for a remake, with one of the original producers on hand and Oren Uziel handing script duties. A year and a half later, Deadline has a very sizable update. Not only is Uziel no longer involved in the project, but Wingard is in the director’s chair. Even better Wingard will be working on a new script with his longtime writing partner, Simon Barrett*. The due has teamed previously on The Guest, You’re Next and Blair Witch. That last one would be the one they’d rather you not hold against them.
If there’s one big budget action film from the 90’s, that revels in all the ludicrous excess you could possibly want, it’s Face/Off. A film in which a grizzled FBI Agent, Sean Archer (originally John Travolta) is nipping on the heels of criminal terrorist, Castor Troy (originally Nicolas Cage), who was responsible for mudering his son. Before Archer can stop Troy’s latest plot, the criminal is knocked into a coma. Being of totally sound judgement and learning of a secret government procedure, Archer swaps faces with Troy, in order to go undercover. Unfortunately, Troy wakes up & steals Archer’s face. What follows is a masterclass in possessing another actor’s soul, while devouring the scenery within a 3 state radius. Also, Joan Allen and Gina Gershon are there.
Now, the weirdest part to all this, is likely the parentheses in the headline. It’s not a mistake. Apparently, hours after Deadline dropped the exclusive, they made an update. It appears Wingard is approaching his Face/Off as a sequel to the ’97 hit? That seems, well, preposterous, ridiculous and utterly brilliant. No clue how it works at all, seeing as how lot everyone you’d assumed, made is through the first round unscathed. Is it merely set within the save universe in which the technology exists and just replaying, in a sense, with a new agent and adversary? Does Travolta show up to play a sizable role? Is his son not really dead and he and Troy’s son are the agent and adversary who take each other’s faces off? Anything is possible. In the hands of Wingard and Barrett, that’s a very very good thing.
More on this one, as soon as there’s more news to share. Hopefully everyone who can come back from the original, opts to do so.
*This writer was lucky enough to see Barrett do an intro for a screening of Face/Off, where his love of the film was palpable. That isn’t necessary when making a film like this, but it can often help.