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The Forgotten Nicolas Cage Action Thriller You Can Watch On Amazon Prime

"I'd like to take his face...off!" If that quote doesn't mean anything to you, you need to drop what you're doing and immediately watch Face/Off — the action classic that's campy and un-ironically awesome at the same time — on Amazon Prime Video.

The 1997 flick stars John Travolta as Sean Archer, a dedicated and heroic FBI Agent, and Nicolas Cage as Castor Troy, a sociopathic terrorist-for-hire whom Archer is bent on apprehending. It pits America's two most over-the-top action stars against each other with a kooky high-concept premise: their characters switch faces with each other, which allows Travolta to act like Cage and Cage to act like Travolta. They do impressions of each other's personas, sort of. It's truly, deeply strange and should not work at all, but it works so, so well. It's really the masterpiece of excessive '90s action movies, and maybe the most insane $80 million movie ever made.

The film starts with Castor Troy attempting to assassinate Sean Archer while he rides on a merry-go-round with his kindergarten-aged son, Michael. The bullet passes through Archer's shoulder and kills his son. It then flashes forward to six years later. Troy, disguised as a priest, hides a bomb at the Los Angeles Convention Center, then he and his brother Pollux (Alessandro Nivola) attempt to flee the city via private jet. Archer's task force captures them. During his apprehension, Troy tells Archer about the bomb, but is knocked into a coma with a jet-engine blast before Archer can get him to say where it is. So Archer opts to try an experimental procedure in which he gets Troy's face transplanted onto his body in order to go undercover as Troy and keep the bomb from destroying Los Angeles. And then Troy wakes up, and demands Archer's face for his own.

Face/Off is Cage at his ragiest

Face/Off's plot and premise are outrageous on their own, but the acting and dialogue put it so far over the top that it's in the stratosphere. It has one of the all-time great deranged Nicolas Cage performances. He basically plays the Tex Avery cartoon wolf with the sex and violence cranked to 11. He harasses an undercover FBI agent posing as a flight attendant with surreal come-ons like "I could eat a peach for hours" before taking her hostage, shooting her to death, dropping her out of the plane's door onto the runway, and smirking like "ain't I a stinker?" In movies that don't call for it, Cage's "nouveau shamanic" acting style is disruptive, but when it finds a suitable vehicle like Face/Off, it's glorious. For much of the movie he's doing Cage doing Travolta doing Cage.

Travolta, on the other hand, gets to go full Cage Rage. He goes all out with the eye-bugging and the leering and the craziness, making it look like no one has ever had as much fun acting in a movie. Face/Off was directed by John Woo, the legendary Hong Kong action filmmaker who's famous for his operatic fight scenes, which are loaded with slow motion, showers of sparks, Mexican stand-offs, and doves flying around. He's as gloriously excessive as Cage and Travolta in his own way. 

Face/Off actually got great critical reviews when it came out — it has 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes — because its action sequences are so thrilling and its sense of humor is so unique. It's difficult for a movie to walk as fine a line between genius and stupidity as Face/Off and always come down on the right side. Hopefully the planned reboot doesn't actually happen, because the original is perfect. Seriously, whoever pitched that idea: no more drugs for that person!