Face Off

  • Directors: John Woo
  • Producers: David Permut, Barrie M Osborne, Terence Chang
  • Writers: Mike Werb, Michael Colleary
  • Genres: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: John Travolta, Nicolas Cage

Public enemy number one and freelance terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) is being relentlessly pursued by FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta). Years earlier, Troy had attempted to kill Archer, who barely survived with a chest wound, but the bullet struck Archer’s little son Michael who died of his injuries.

Troy is recorded in the FBI files to have a whole list of terrorism-related offences, including bombings and political assassinations. The FBI receives information that Castor’s brother Pollux (Alessandro Nivola) has chartered a plane at a Los Angeles airport, and Archer knows the Troy brothers well enough to guess that Pollux “doesn’t fly without big brother!” Archer leads an FBI team in chasing the plane down a runway and is able to shoot out one of the engines. Unable to take off, Castor kills both the pilot and one of Archer’s agents, then crashes the plane into a hangar. In the ensuing chaos, which leaves several FBI agents wounded or dead, Pollux is captured by the Feds and Castor is knocked into a coma after bragging to Archer about a biological bomb that will destroy Los Angeles.

Archer initially believes Castor was bluffing, but after the FBI finds schematics for the bomb on a disk recovered from Pollux’s briefcase, Archer realizes that the threat is genuine. Although he learns the date of the bombing from several of Castor’s henchmen, including Castor’s bomb supplier Dietrich Hassler (Nick Cassavetes), Archer is unable to find any information about the location of the bomb itself. Knowing that the only way to obtain the location is from Castor’s brother, Pollux, Archer’s colleagues, Tito and Miller, present him with a top-secret mission and convince him to undergo a surgical procedure to temporarily graft Archer’s face and pose as Castor in order to gain information about the bomb from Pollux. (Though the time-period is never specified in the film and largely implied to be the present, the technology shown here and later in the prison is partially anachronistic, contrasting with the technology used in the rest of the film.)

Archer then brings Adam Hassler, Castor Troy’s son, into his family, in order to fulfill his promise to Sasha of not allowing Adam to grow up to be a criminal.

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