Face/Off: Special Collector’s Edition

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Sean Archer (John Travolta) is an FBI agent with a serious ax to grind, he is determined to bring down the fugitive Castor Troy (Nicholas Cage), regardless of what it takes. Troy is a high level international terrorist, unafraid of taking innocent lives to further his own cause. But when one of his projects caused the death of Archer’s son, it became personal and so now, Archer is dedicated to getting retribution. He is finally able to capture Troy after a violent confrontation, but even in this situation, he retains some power over Archer. A bomb was placed somewhere in Los Angeles and the timer is in motion, but Troy is comatose and unable to reveal any information. In a desperate move, Archer agrees to an experimental procedure which would allow him to assume Troy’s identity, then track down the bomb. But even if the plan works and Archer can pose as Troy, will the plan unfold as it was laid out, or will some serious problems arise?

In my opinion, this is one of, if not the best American action movies ever produced. Face/Off is a movie I could watch over and over again, as it delivers on all fronts. John Woo loads so much action into this movie, it almost bursts at the seams at times and has some incredible set pieces. As you’d expect from Woo, the gun battles are epic and the film’s generous budget shows, this is some well choreographed, well executed violence. The story itself is of course over the top, but suspension of disbelief is part and parcel when it comes to action movies. The plot does what it needs to do, which is establish the characters and then set the pieces up to be knocked down in gloriously violent fashion. John Travolta and Nicholas Cage don’t just play these roles, they embrace them and really bring the characters to life. I simply cannot recommend Face/Off enough and with this new two disc edition, this release is not one to be missed.

Video: How does it look?

Face/Off is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I have to admit, when I saw how excellent this transfer is, I started to count down the days until the HD-DVD release. The image here is more than impressive, with a pristine source print that yields clean, very sharp visuals. The level of detail is superb for standard resolution, with a lot more depth than the previous release and a nice bump in overall clarity. Contrast is stark and razor sharp, while colors look bright and natural, great stuff. In the end, this is a terrific transfer and fans will be thrilled.

Audio: How does it sound?

As good as the video is, the DTS 6.1 soundtrack is even more impressive. This movie is packed with action and gun fights, so of course, the surrounds have a lot to do here. I found the action scenes to be loud and immersive, the gunshots and explosions sound simply phenomenal in this soundtrack. The music also packs a nice punch, so even the more laid back scenes have presence. The dialogue is flawless too, never buried in the mix or hard to understand. This release also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX option, a French language track, and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The first commentary track has John Woo with the film’s two writers, while the second track is just the writers by themselves. I found both sessions to be solid, but of course, Woo’s presence added a lot to the first track. The writers tend to focus on the story and how it evolved, while Woo provides more “on the set” type information. In any case, both prove to be insightful and fans will want to make time to hear them both. The Light and Dark: The Making of Face/Off has five featurettes that combine to offer an in depth, hour long look at the production. Each featurettes focuses on a unique element, so they cover a lot of ground and unlike some other lengthy pieces, these never get dull. John Woo: A Life in Pictures is a great half hour look at Woo’s career and while not deep, it is something fans will enjoy, so its a welcome inclusion. This release also includes some deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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