Face Off

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -3

As the name implies, Face Off refers to a confrontation between two people, but the title can also be interpreted literally. Two arch enemies, Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage), a heinous terrorist, and Sean Archer (John Travolta), an anti-terrorist expert, each have their faces surgically removed and switched. Sean is obsessed with bringing down Castor, who killed Sean's young son six years earlier while attempting to assassinate Sean. When Castor is placed on life support after a covert government attack led by Sean, Sean learns terrorists plan to blow up Los Angeles within a week. The key to exactly when and where lies in a top security prison where the master-mind brother of Castor is being held. After agreeing to the bizarre surgery of having Castor's face transferred to his skull, Sean infiltrates the prison to get to the psychopathic brother. Meanwhile, Castor survives and forces doctors to give him Sean's preserved face. This gruesome situation escalates as Actors Cage and Travolta change roles convincingly. While special effects and suspense will make it a bonanza at the boxoffice, FACE OFF will come up empty with more family-oriented viewers. In this film, every character is either a victim or perpetrator of brutal beatings, ferocious kicks, knifings, fiery explosions and massive gunfights. Even a young boy is placed in the center of a gun battle, held by his mother as she fires an automatic weapon while dodging a barrage of gunfire. He witnesses dozens of killings, including his mother's slow death from a bullet. A teenage girl uses a menacing knife as she fights off a killer. The grand finale "face-off" takes place in a Catholic Church during a funeral. A woman thrown from an airplane, extensive property destruction by plane crashes, explosive boat chases and prison riots all provide "entertainment." Adding to this mayhem are 22 f-words, 8 s-words and 12 other obscenities, plus 6 regular profanities. Even though Sean is a family man with a loving wife (Joan Allen) and teenage daughter, his background in undercover work makes it easy for him to slip into the shoes of a criminal. Castor's demented character includes impersonating a Catholic priest who fondles young girls while expressing his sexual desires in crude language. Sex is implied between impostor Castor and Sean's wife, but there is no on-screen sex. Those who abhor violence and are offended by foul language will be sickened.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Paramount Communications, 15 Columbus Circle, NY, NY 10023-7780

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (14) times - Mild 11, Moderate 3

Obscene Language: Many (49) times - (f-word 30, s-word 14, other 5)

Profanity: Many (9) times - Regular 9 (G-d 8, J 1), Exclamatory 1

Violence: Many, many times - Moderate and Severe (multiple shootings with bloody wounds and killings, stabbings, kicks, beatings, woman thrown from airplane, graphic surgical procedures, fiery explosions with property destruction and deaths)

Sex: : None, but implied once (woman with man posing as her husband embracing suggestively)

Nudity: None, near nudity once (teenage girl in underwear)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several times (man gropes, talks and acts crudely toward women, references to sex, woman attempts to seduce man)

Drugs: Few times (criminals taking drugs, snorting cocaine)


Running Time: 136 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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