After trying to capture a gang leader, leaaving him on a coma, the FBI find out that he has hidden a biochemical weapon somewhere in Los Angeles. The leading FBI agent must take on the appearance of the gangs leader in order to find the location.
Experimental face surgery is performed – but can he keep up the act and will he find the bomb?
The surgury is successful. Agent Archer now has the appearance of (criminal) Troy. They then send him to prison to trick Troy’s brother into revealing the location of the bomb. Life isn’t easy as he struggles to impersonate the criminal.
Things get worse for Archer (John Travolta) whilst he plays at being gang leader Troy (Nicholas Cage) when the latter awakens from his coma and forces surgeons to give him Archer’s face.
Acting with the senior office in the FBI that this identity gives him Troy plans to abuse the power and set himself and his brother up for life. He even revels in how he’s going to treat Archer’s family.
As everyone believes Archer is Troy, and he is incarcerated, no one believes anything but the surface facts. Especially as Troy destroy all evidence of the procedure and kills all the witnesses.
Now Archer must escape prison, stop Troy, rescue his family, prove his real identity (even to his wife) and of course get his own face back.
It’s a silly concept. Surgeons can replace your face with anothers, keep yours alive so that you can return to it later.
Of course now – 15 years later – the first steps in this direction have been made.
What this movie is really about is the hard core acting talents of Nicholas Cage and John Travolta. It is a shame Travolta doesn’t do more work like this and the excellent Broken Arrow. Cage just seems to know instinctively how this stuff goes.
The two titans thoroughly enjoy impersonating each other trying to impersonate each other. If you follow me.
The two main supporting actors allow the leads the room to expand the emotional elements of such a change. Joan Allen is excellent as the neglected wife of Archer who is fooled by Troy’s antics as Archer, his charm if you will. A disturbed, nervous and anxious performance (character-wise) of Troy’s brother by Alessandro Nivola allows both leads to play against him in different ways.
All in all this is an excellent thriller. There is enough ticks and changes in stance to believe that we are looking at two men – each actor playing the twitches and ticks as per whatever underlying character they represent at that time.
A lot of people are aparently killed or injured during the movie, pretty violent gun crime and shot-outs.
Frenetic action sequences fill out this movie to produce an effective action thriller.
Things to look out for: Nicholas Cage’s maniacal Troy, “I’ve got a government job to abuse…“, the slow changes in John Travolta’s Archer through the movie, “Nothing like having your face cut off to disturb your sleep.“, the reacion of Archer’s daughter to the ‘new’ dad, Alessandro Nivola’s disturbed younger Troy brother, Archer’s wife’s reaction on hearing the truth, “Please tell me what planet I’m on.”
Cast: John Travolta, Nicholas Cage, Alessandro Nivola, Joan Allen
Rating: good action thriller with a nice twist, highly recommended
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