The Problems Facing the Face/Off Sequel

Tom Jolliffe on the issues going through a Face/Off sequel virtually 1 / 4 of a century on from the unique…


Even in an ever altering movie local weather, with theatrical distribution going through unprecedented difficulties when popping out the opposite aspect of the worldwide pandemic, the predilection for remakes/reboots/sequels continues. If it labored as soon as it may work once more. Even when it didn’t work the primary time, we’ve seen film-makers breath new life right into a dormant property. Often they’re good, maybe extra typically they’re unhealthy (the monetary returns extra typically appear to underwhelm than exceed expectations). Whether or not the viewers is mendacity in wait or not has typically appeared to be an afterthought. Take perpetual makes an attempt to leap begin a Terminator franchise which ran out of battery the primary time James Cameron jumped ship (and even his return with soar leads proved fruitless).

So now we now have extra agency affirmation {that a} lengthy vaunted follow-up to Face/Off is near occurring. Studies of the Adam Wingard-fronted undertaking dropped final week. His clarification got here that this might be a direct sequel as a result of remaking a ‘excellent motion movie’ could be sacrilege. In reality, if the idea is identical and the forged is solely new, it’s all however a remake anyway, and nods again to the very distinct unique could solely compound this new movie. There are a selection of pitfalls in making this, however for the sake of steadiness I’ll take a look at the areas the place this might succeed.


Face/Off is one thing of an oddity. The plot, which appeared to be a part of a development of regalvanising excessive idea motion on the tail finish of final century (of which Nicolas Cage would persistently entrance going into the brand new century), wasn’t weaved with a lot consideration to logic. In sci-fi you could have concepts that develop into plausible, or these which appear preposterous even in case you’re coping with the identical thought another person has already achieved (see time journey). Even in case you cease to consider the ins and outs, the best situation is in creating a movie that retains your consideration targeted away from finer particulars, and enthralled sufficient to make them a passing submit watch conundrum.

Take The Terminator paradox for instance. The unique movie is an ideal style movie. Questions are inevitable in any time journey movie, the artwork is ensuring your viewers isn’t doing that in the course of the movie, as a result of they’re too hooked into the motion. To paraphrase Mark Kermode, you need to be pondering ‘Wow…not what!??’ Face/Off is a complete pile of what!?? It’s ludicrous. Completely barking mad. But, as Wingard attests, it’s an ideal motion film (I wouldn’t fairly go that far, nevertheless it’s an enormous slice of brilliance).


There are three important causes Face/Off works in addition to it does (for people who dig it). Regardless of it’s goofiness, it actually does roll into the touchdown. You’d count on it to shatter its legs to items, nevertheless it comes proper again up grinning like a Nic Cage meme. Firstly, John Woo got here to Hollywood. In that point he’s achieved one movie which felt prefer it efficiently captured Woo’s HK system for depth and balletic grace. That was Laborious Goal, which has aged nicely, and although easy was deceptively intelligent too (it was additionally a close to excellent use of JCVD). From then on, Woo, maybe hamstrung by the Hollywood course of and politics, or an incapability to get the lower precisely as he’d need, turned one thing of a caricature of himself.

By Mission: Inconceivable 2, it was virtually like Woo was the David Zucker (Airplane, Bare Gun) model of himself. The Hong Kong cinema sensibility and presents of stoic poetic charisma from actors like Chow Yun-Fats and Tony Leung have been excellent foil for Woo. Arguably Van Damme was probably the most nicely suited actor to his presents since his Hollywood period, at the least to the purest model of Woo-Cinema. With the American film star mixed with Woo there was only a juxtaposition that fermented into one thing tacky. Entertaining at greatest in fact (M:I 2 is a complete lot of enjoyable regardless of being type of horrible). Nonetheless, the tacky Hollywood model of Woo was really granted an ideal platform in Face/Off. With all consideration to the substances, the movie ought to have been Battlefield Earth horrible, nevertheless it was very good.


With Woo’s penchant for flying doves, duality and double handed gunplay, the movie had a theatrical verve (most brilliantly exemplified by a gun battle to the soundtrack of Someplace over the Rainbow, pure Woo pastiche by Woo himself). Earlier rumours recommended the potential of Stallone and Schwarzenegger buying and selling faces. That wouldn’t have labored, actually not with ‘Murica Woo. No, what we had was Nicolas Cage, a instantly rising motion hero, and John Travolta nonetheless dancing at his Tarantino-lead resurrection. The thought was easy: Travolta is the great man, Cage is the baddie. A 3rd of the way in which into the movie, for close to incomprehensible causes, there’d be a swap up the place the characters swap faces and thus enable a commerce up of roles. Cage now the hero, Travolta now the villain. In essence, with each actors dialling as much as a stage only a few moreover them can attain, they have been allowed the unrestrained freedom to devour surroundings as Caster Troy. Let’s face it too, at the same time as Sean Archer, the man with ‘a stick up his butt’ nonetheless had sufficient anguish and psychological breakdown to permit for some ham. Ham it might be, however this was good ham. This was top quality, completely aged, honey glazed ham. Woo + Travolta + Cage = Perfection.

Right here-in lies the largest hurdle. How do you match that mixture? Has anybody discovered the proper recreation of the Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices? Not but, however some issues can’t be matched. So that you go another technique. Maybe they go for one thing extra grounded, gritty, intense. It’s an choice, however for that, the idea has to additionally really feel extra plausible, or at the least in its supply. Too typically when reboots scrape away what made an unique nice by conventionalising the concept, it turns into a dreary, po-faced borefest (see The Hitcher, or Level Break remakes). The fantastic thing about Face/Off was that regardless of the shortcomings the concept introduced with it, such was the aptitude of its performers and its director, our thoughts was pulled away from ideas about differing physique shapes and many others.


Wingard is nicely into the large funds area now, which places him at a stage to cherry decide the large names, however actually, are there a mix of film stars round who may present the aptitude of Travolta/Cage from then? I really feel like there’s a sure blandness nowadays to a couple, so far as character quirks and flamboyance. After all you may go the extra grounded route, however every part must be on level to get the viewers engaged. There have been too many remakes of inherently distinctive excessive idea cinema that on paper had good casts, however not one of the character of the unique (RoboCop, Complete Recall). Likewise as a result of sci-fi can typically have a base stage of silliness, to efficiently make it really feel plausible and terrifyingly prescient (Ex_Machina for instance) takes loads of ability, and simply as typically the studios appear virtually adversarial to treating the concepts intelligently, opting for easy thrills and a well timed/uniformly crafted supply. Usually phasers are set to ‘go large or go residence.’

Actually Wingard may take a extra minimalist method, akin to his auspicious beginnings with You’re Subsequent and The Visitor, to create a style movie which has sufficient nostalgia and intimacy to seize the viewers. These movies don’t need to go full on large (as Improve lately and brilliantly proved). I really feel like there’s a doubtlessly nice use of the Face/Off idea with somebody like Brandon Cronenberg or Panos Cosmatos on the helm. We’re not so within the science as a result of the environment and psychological depth is so thrilling. Wingard in equity may have that potential. There’s actually an 80’s physique horror homage in ready for a Face/Off transforming, if not the Ex_Machina method in opening some philosophical concepts and utilizing the VFX sparingly (however brilliantly).


One of many largest hurdles nevertheless is the viewers itself. If that is doubtlessly a Paramount tentpole, is there sufficient demand to revisit the Face/Off idea, whether or not you efficiently modernise it or not? Blade Runner 2049 for instance, was distinctive and completely rebooted the unique, while successfully following it instantly. It did so intelligently, creating top-of-the-line sci-fi movies this century. Bother is, not sufficient folks went to see what was an enormous funds movie. Face/Off’s new incarnation will unlikely value as a lot as Blade Runner 2049, however I’d be stunned in the event that they weren’t someplace within the area of $100 million. That in itself can are likely to virtually curse your movie, and be a temptation to steer it away from sustaining a robust character focus (whereas smaller budgets virtually pressure you to take action, as it’s a must to ration your bells and whistles). Together with your potential viewers for theatrical launched tent-poles as key a consideration as its ever been, it is a dangerous property for Paramount to reboot. Time will inform the method taken, or whether or not subsequent releases from the studio, previous to this capturing, may trigger a rethink, however maybe some warning is advisable.

SEE ALSO: Damaged Arrow at 25

What are your ideas on a Face/Off reboot? Who would you wish to see forged? Tell us your ideas on our social channels @flickeringmyth…


Tom Jolliffe is an award profitable screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has quite a few movies out on DVD/VOD world wide and several other releases due out in 2021, together with, Renegades (Lee Majors, Danny Trejo, Michael Pare, Tiny Lister, Ian Ogilvy and Billy Murray), Crackdown, When Darkness Falls and Struggle of The Worlds: The Assault (Vincent Regan). Discover extra information at the most effective private web site you’ll ever see…


Supply by way of

Leave a Reply