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'Face/Off' hooks viewers with complicated plot, action

June 26, 1997
Web posted at: 5:15 a.m. EDT (0915 GMT)

From Correspondent Jim Moret

film scenes

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- The premise of "Face/Off" is both simple and fantastic. It's also somewhat hard to follow.

A secret surgical procedure allows an FBI agent played by John Travolta to literally borrow the face of an international terrorist in order to infiltrate his mob. When the terrorist, played by Nicolas Cage, awakes from a coma, however, he takes Travolta's face and wreaks havoc with the FBI agent's life.

The movie gave both actors the opportunity to play the other's character as well as their own. They emulated each other's persona by watching rough cuts of the performances to get a better feel for each other's movements.

"When I first met with Nick, I noticed that he had a very distinctive walk, and I really thought that would be good for the bad guy," Travolta says.

Woo, Travolta, & Cage

"We were similar enough in style and mannerism that people would perhaps go with it and believe the operation and transformation without constantly trying to hit you over the head with mimicry," Cage counters.

In addition to the psychological drama of the storyline, "Face/Off," is pure action. Director John Woo favors meticulously choreographed explosions and chase scenes set over computer graphics to keep the audience riveted to its seats.

"My action sequence is usually like a ballet dance, always having something happen, something new, something unexpected for the audience," Woo says.

While some may find it too far over the top, Travolta advises audiences to just enjoy the ride.

"I don't think he (had) the intent of violence," Travolta says of Woo. "The guns are drums and the movement is ballet. The words are poetry and the music is opera."

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