Anyone got a light? Because things are surely about to get lit on the big screen when two actors inevitably step into roles made ludicrous-iconic by Nicolas Cage and John Travolta in the visage of a new Face/Off remake.
Word of the film came early Monday evening when Deadline broke that Paramount Pictures is set on resurrecting the beloved ‘90s action classic with a new cast of characters, and the studio has tapped Oren Uziel to write the screenplay. Uziel’s previous credits promisingly include 22 Jump Street… and less promsingly The Cloverfield Paradox and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Face/Off is of course the preposterous and so dumb-it’s-brilliant action spectacle that remains director John Woo’s best Hollywood effort. The movie told the story of Sean Archer (Travolta) and Castor Troy (Cage), two hateful nemeses whose worst nightmares come true when they wind up swapping faces and lifestyles. The loony concept is that after FBI agent Archer puts arch supervillain terrorist Troy (you know, by ‘90s standards) into a coma, he will wear Troy’s face in order to infiltrate his gang and stop a terrorist plot. Alas, Castor Troy wakes up, faceless and all, with nary an explanation and then forces the doctors to give him Travolta’s mug (and apparently love handles). Psychotic Troy becomes the family man law enforcer, and Archer must become an actual criminal and fugitive to reclaim his life. But seriously, it’s just a chance for Travolta and Cage to portray parodies of each other and dial the camp factor up to eleven while Woo incorporates as many slow-motion doves as is appropriate for a story that also nonchalantly includes prisons that wipe the mind of inmates for talking dirty.
The picture is a serendipitous accident that we were all blessed with after it was originally pitched as hard science fiction and at one point was slated to star Michael Douglas and Harrison Ford, or worse Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. But as fate would have it, Face/Off became the province of extreme scenery chewing, and Woo landed on two ‘90s action stars whose scenery-appetites have never known what it is to be full. The result is a gonzo delight.
This is of course the biggest problem a remake will face: How do you replicate the madness of John Travolta trying to one-up the ham of Nicolas Cage, who opened the picture by dancing in a priest’s collar while eyeballing the heavens, as if to dare God to tell him to dial it back?! Finding an actor who could eat such a peach of a role for hours will be a tall order.
Neil Moritz will produce and David Permut will executive produce.