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SYFY WIRE Face/Off

Everything We Know About the Face/Off Sequel - Stream the Original on Peacock!

"I want to take his face...off."

By Josh Weiss
Director John Woo watches as Nicolas Cage aims pistol in between scenes from the film 'Face/Off' (1997)

Is there a film more emblematic of the unfettered '90s action boom than Face/Off

The 1997 John Woo classic, which contains all the iconic hallmarks of its celebrated director — slow motion cinematography, frenetic editing, a flock of doves in flight, etc. — is as absurd as it is entertaining. You can find it streaming on Peacock right now, and boy, oh boy, is it entertaining to watch John Travolta and Nicolas Cage try to out-ham the other for over two hours. Perhaps more entertaining than it ever should have been.

On paper, the movie seems woefully destined for failure, and yet, the final product works so darned well. Why? Because everyone involved treats the material with absolute sincerity. Yes, the pitch of a dedicated FBI agent (Travolta) switching faces with a sociopathic international terrorist (Cage) is beyond laughable, but overarching themes of grief, family, acceptance, and forgiveness help turn Face/Off from a silly shoot-em-up full of mindless violence into a silly shoot-em-up full of mindless violence and a ton of heart.

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In addition to memorable performances and relatable pathos, the deadly game of wits between Sean Archer (Travolta) and Castor Troy (Cage) also places a unique spin on the body swapping premise, rooting it not in fantasy, but in the world of science (albeit science of a wildly fantastical nature). Made on a budget of $80 million, Face/Off grossed over $240 million worldwide (Woo's second-best box office showing after Mission: Impossible 2, which opened on the big screen three years later).

And that's where the story ended for many years, with Face/Off representing a kind of strange and successful time capsule of the decade in which it was originally produced — content to stand on its own merits until the end of time. Or, of course, until Hollywood ran out of original ideas. As we now know, any classic IP can be rebooted, reimagined, and sequel-ized for contemporary audiences. So with that said, here is everything we know about the Face/Off sequel currently in active development at Paramount Pictures.

What You Need to Know About the Face/Off Sequel

Origin of the Face/Off sequel

Plans for a new project bearing the Face/Off title were first announced in September 2019 when it was reported that Paramount hoped to reboot the property with a brand-new cast of characters. Oren Uziel (22 Jump Street, The Cloverfield Paradox) would write the script, while Neal Moritz (Fast X) and David Permut (Hacksaw Ridge) took on executive producing duties.

Who is directing the Face/Off sequel?

Two years later, the studio tapped Adam Wingard, then gearing up for the debut of Godzilla vs. Kong, to direct the film, which was clarified to be a direct sequel rather than a complete wiping of the slate. Rather than utilize the previous draft penned by Uziel, Wingard would write an entirely new screenplay alongside You're Next and The Guest collaborator, Simon Barrett.

 "We’re really honing in on it. We’re not going to share it until everybody’s like, ‘This is the one,'" Wingard told Empire last summer. He simultaneously confirmed that the next chapter in the Face/Off saga will feature the return of Castor Troy, despite the fact that the scene-chewing antagonist met his demise at the hands of a harpoon gun wielded by Sean Archer in the '97 original.

"I think we really got it," Wingard continued. “It has been probably the most challenging script we’ve ever worked on, for a lot of reasons. There’s so much pressure in wanting to make sure that it lives up to the legacy of that project. But every draft you have these things that just click in, and you’re like, ‘A-ha! That’s really what Face/Off is!’"

Is Nicolas Cage returning for the Face/Off sequel?

Several months before that interview took place, Cage confessed that he didn't know a sequel was even in the works, stating: "I have not heard hide nor hair about it. So often these things we read about are just conjecture without any base or foundation to it. I feel the same about National Treasure 3. It’s been 14 years. There’s no there, there. So, is it fun to think about? Sure. Would [Face/Off 2] be an exciting movie to make? Oh, hell yeah. But John Woo was such a huge voice in that movie. It couldn’t be a remake. I think these filmmakers even said as much — that something like that would have to be a sequel."

Travolta, meanwhile, has remained mum on the whole subject.

Nicolas Cage and John Travolta aiming guns at each other in a scene from the film 'Face/Off' (1997)

What will the Face/Off sequel be about?

Based on an interview Cage did with Collider earlier this year, it sounds like the actor was finally brought into the loop. More importantly, his comments seemed to hint that the children of Castor and Sean would be joining the fight this time around.

"I think Face/Off is a sequel that lends itself to a lot of twists and turns and unpredictability," he said. "It's almost like if you factor in the idea of offspring and Castor and Sean having children and these children grow up, then it becomes like three-dimensional chess, and then it's not just the two, John Travolta and myself, it's four of us ping-ponging and going at different levels, and it becomes even more complex. I think there's a lot of fertile ground there. I had maybe one meeting in an office, but I haven't heard anything since, so I don't know."

Barrett corroborated this on Twitter a few days later (via Gizmodo), writing: "We’re both honored he seems to like our idea."

This raises more questions than it answers. For instance, will Adam (the bastard child Castor had with Gina Gershon's Sasha) turn against Sean when he was so lovingly adopted by the Archer family at the end of the first movie? Was there some sort of falling out between the boy and his new guardians over the years that followed? Was Adam ultimately dumped on the foster system and raised with a desire for revenge in his heart? We'll just have to wait and see what wild surprises Face/Off 2 has in store for us!

In the meantime, catch up on all the fun of the original film; Face/Off is now streaming on Peacock!