John Woo insists Face/Off is a comedy

Intentional or not, John Woo’s Face/Off has its share of laughs. After all, the director says, the plot is “ridiculous.”

John Woo Face Off

While John Woo’s Face/Off is probably best remembered for its over-the-top acting, silly plot and (mostly) well-choreographed action, its director wants you to know that it’s far more of a comedy than people give it credit for. Why? Well, to quote Nicolas Cage’s Castor Troy: Take one goddamn guess. 

In a new interview with Vulture, Face/Off helmer John Woo this came about as the movie was being developed, saying, “In the meantime [of changing the time frame in which the movie is set], I started to make it like a comedy. Or a comedylike movie, not a real comedy. I’m a big fan of MAD magazine. The characters in my movies sometimes feel like characters from there. The whole thing is so ridiculous. People who can change their faces — it’s so unreal. But I had to make it a believable story, so that’s why I let my actors be carefree and do whatever they wanted.” The same went for John Woo himself, who was given a lot of freedom by Paramount when making Face/Off, a major turning point for the director who, although he had directed Hollywood movies before, was never given so much control.

And, like John Woo wanted, the comedy remains in Face/Off – even if it’s unintentional at times. While it does have its own cult following, Face/Off undoubtedly has its goofs…except they may only appear to be so. One of the more talked-about elements of the movie, for those who catch it, is that you can actually clearly see the faces of the stunt people in the climactic boat scene. But Woo defends this, saying it comes down to authenticity. “I never like to hide it. The audience understands that the most dangerous action is usually played by the stunt guy. Tom Cruise [who Woo directed in 2000’s Mission: Impossible 2] likes to do all kinds of risky action scenes, but there are not many people like him. And I didn’t want to do digital faces. I just tried to maintain the beauty of the action. If a shot looks beautiful and stunning, I want to keep it. It’s about the film language. You can see, in my action scenes, I never like to do the quick cut or second camera.”

John Woo’s Face/Off remains a fan favorite here on, ranking as one of our readers’ most beloved Nicolas Cage movies.

What are your thoughts on John Woo’s Face/Off? Where does it sit in the legacy of the director’s works? Let us know in the comments section below!

Source: Vulture

About the Author

1944 Articles Published

Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.