Face/Off remake

In 1997, Hong Kong filmmaker John Woo made his third Hollywood feature film, a ludicrously entertaining action flick called Face/Off. In it, an FBI agent (John Travolta) and a psychotic killer (Nicolas Cage) literally had their faces surgically removed and swapped to adopt the other character’s identity. It’s a totally bonkers movie that’s very much a product of its time, a shining example of the type of off-kilter, idiosyncratic film that would be incredibly difficult to remake with any creative success today.

Now a new report says Paramount Pictures is developing a Face/Off remake. Dust off your Nic Cage impression and read on for the details.

Deadline reports that Paramount is working on a Face/Off remake with a new cast, and the studio has hired Oren Uziel to write the screenplay. Uziel co-wrote 22 Jump Street, but he also has writing credits on The Cloverfield Paradox and the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog film. Neal Moritz (The Fast and The Furious, xXx, Passengers) is producing this remake, with original Face/Off producer David Permut on board as an executive producer this time around.

There’s something universally appealing about the concept of two actors essentially doing subtle impressions of each other as explosions go off in the background and they dive in slow motion firing dual pistols into the air. But rewatching this trailer for the original film, I’m again reminded of just how much of a cultural artifact that first movie was. It was the perfect mixture of Woo taking everything he’d learned from his years of action filmmaking; a post-Pulp Fiction Travolta, whose career was fully revitalized at that point; and Cage delivering the type of wonderfully unhinged performance of which he’s uniquely capable. It’s so…’90s.

Uziel’s filmography is spotty at best, and while some of that may be blamed on production troubles, collaborations, or any number of things in Hollywood, all we have to go by is the final product. I hope he ends up being the right person to resurrect this idea, but I think a healthy dose of skepticism is warranted at this stage. No director is attached yet, but it’ll be a tall order to find someone to follow in Woo’s footsteps. The only thing that’s keeping me from being totally cynical about this project is the fact that so much of this concept is reliant on the lead actors. If this version nails its casting – how about Javier Bardem and Jeffrey Dean Morgan? or Dermot Mulroney and Dylan McDermott? – maybe there will be hope for it after all.

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