When word broke that Adam Wingard was directing a Face/Off reboot, I’ll admit I was immediately skeptical. More than that – I was annoyed. Face/Off is perfect as-is – we don’t need a remake. Then things got weirder, as Wingard took to social media to clarify he wasn’t making a reboot or a remake – he was making a sequel. This raised all sorts of new questions, specifically: how? How exactly do you make a sequel to Face/Off? And do you bring back original stars John Travolta and Nicolas Cage?
According to Wingard…maybe?
Released in 1997, Face/Off is John Woo’s wonderful, operatic action flick in which mortal enemies John Travolta and Nicolas Cage end up undergoing surgery that literally swaps their faces (and bodies, too). It’s an admittedly goofy concept, but Woo, Travolta, and Cage all make it work. It truly feels like a one-of-a-kind movie, and trying to remake it is a fool’s errand. Thankfully, Adam Wingard is not trying to remake it – he and screenwriter Simon Barett are instead making a direct sequel. But what does that mean? Wingard has been dropping hints in several interviews as he promotes his upcoming movie Godzilla vs. Kong.
“Some people just assume when I say that…it just means it takes place in the world of Face/Off,” Wingard told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “To me, Face/Off isn’t about a procedure or anything like that. It’s not about the world that the characters exist in. It’s about Sean Archer and it’s about Castor Troy. That’s what this movie is about. It’s the continuation of that story. It’s hard to talk about other than that but this is, to me, the definitive continuation of that saga.”
I’ll confess that even after Wingard revealed his Face/Off was going to be a sequel I still thought he meant in the loosest of terms. I figured Wingard was making a movie about new characters who use the same face-swap surgery from the first film. But apparently, I’m dead wrong, and Wingard really does intend to somehow bring back the original characters from the first film – FBI Agent Sean Archer (Travolta) and terrorist Castor Troy (Cage). Of course, that’s easier said than done, since Castor Troy died at the end of the original film. But what Adam Wingard presupposes is…maybe he didn’t?
Speaking with Cinema Blend, Wingard said: “Isn’t it weird, whenever you look at the end of that film, where… you know the part where John Travolta takes the ring off of Castor Troy? You remember that part? They’re in the ambulance together. Well, did you notice that Castor Troy has a bandage – that the medic has bandaged his wound? Just take another look at that scene.” For reference, here’s the scene he’s talking about.
Wingard’s implication seems to be that paramedics wouldn’t bother to bandage a dead body, so maybe Castor Troy is still alive, and I guess that makes sense. Still, it’s worth noting that neither Travolta nor Cage has officially signed on to this film yet, and Wingard never comes right out and says, “Yes, Travolta and Cage are both in my movie!” However, he’s strongly hinting at bringing the actors back. Speaking with The Playlist, Wingard compared the situation to his Blair Witch sequel:
“Our Blair Witch movie…we originally wanted to get [original Blair Witch Project actress] Heather Donahue in it. And at the last minute, it turned out that she had zero interest in coming back and ever being associated with Blair Witch again. So we always felt like it never totally felt like a real sequel. And people didn’t really accept it as a sequel. And I think that was a big lesson for us. And so when we came into Face/Off, we said, ‘Look, I mean, like, the only way that we’re going to do this really is if we get, you know, the original cast.’ I’m not going to say how it works or anything, but like, it’s got to be 100% the real follow up not just like some fan service movie, not just some like ca-ching thing, this has to feel like the ultimate follow up to the original film.”
I want to point out here that Wingard is very good at deflecting and hinting at stuff in these interviews while also not completely committing, and he leaves himself a lot of wiggle room in the event that Travolta and Cage don’t return. Which means I still remain skeptical about this entire endeavor, but if Wingard does manage to bring back Travolta and Cage, my interest in this project will increase tenfold. Hopefully, we’ll learn what’s really going on here soon.
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