I love the 1997 John Woo action flick Face/Off. In it FBI Agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) undergoes top secret surgery to swap faces with his son’s killer and general dickish bad guy Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage), in order to work deep undercover to infiltrate Troy’s gang and learn the location of a bomb. Long story short, things go wrong and Castor Troy ends up swapping faces with Sean Archer, leaving Archer stranded in the face of the man he hates most, while Troy enjoys life as an all star FBI Agent… along with the added bonus of porking his nemesis’ wife.
I guess, the basic plot of Face/Off is nothing more than a take on the classic and often used The Prince and the Pauper story, but given a modern and more violent John Woo twist. Anyway, the reason I’m addressing a plot hole in this flick is because Face/Off has been popping up in my newsfeed a lot over the last few days. See, a sequel is currently being developed. To be directed by Adam Wingard, the man behind the very recent Godzilla vs. Kong flick. The sequel is set to reunite John Travolta’s Sean Archer and Nicolas Cage’s Castor Troy once more, though details on the plot are very sparse right now and just how involved in the sequel the original stars will be is up for speculation. Will they be the main characters, or perhaps more of a secondary/cameo thing? Anyway, none of that is important to this article. What is important is the plot hole I need to address.
See, along with news of a Face/Off 2 comes several reports on how the sequel will address and correct a plot hole from the original. Quite a few notable sites have already been talking about this plot hole fixing. Notable sites such as Digital Spy, We Got This Covered, ScreenRant and other entertainment news sites are commenting on the ‘big plot hole’ of the original film. That got me thinking… What plot hole?
Apparently, these sites are saying that the original flick has a major plot hole in that, while Sean Archer and Castor Troy only swap faces, their bodies magically change too. If you read these plot hole articles, then you’ll see things like ‘in the first movie, the bodies of the lead actors change, despite the characters only undergoing face-swap surgery‘ being claimed. Yeah, you can definitely see a big difference between the body types of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. And yes, one would have to question why when they have the face surgery that for some reason, the bodies also change. Even I can’t deny that’s a plot hole, or it would be if you don’t pay attention to the film.
Still, what I like doing is looking at film plot holes and trying to cover them. When I do this plot hole covering thing, I set myself a few rules. I can only use in-movie universe logic, I can’t just make shit up to suit my own agenda. I can’t use explanations in novelizations, comic books , etc and only what’s in the film(s). Deleted scenes are a bit of a wildcard, depending on why they were deleted. Example, if a scene was removed against the director’s better judgement, because the suits forced it be cut, then I can think about using it. But if a director cut a scene over something like time constrains, then that’s a bit more questionable as, if the director didn’t think the scene was worth fighting for, then why should I?
Anyway, you can check out the other plot holes I’ve covered with the likes of Die Hard and the Back to the Future trilogy to better understand my thinking. So with that out of the way, on to this major plot hole in Face/Off.
As covered, this plot hole surrounds the difference in body types between Sean Archer and Castor Troy. You can clearly see in the film that Travolta has a (I’ll declare delicately) ‘chunkier’ body type than Cage, whose body is certainly leaner. So when the two swap faces, those differing body types really would and should stand out to the other characters in the film, but after the face surgery… they have also swapped bodies. However, this isn’t a plot hole as it’s being declared by certain sites, nor does it need addressing and fixing in the sequel either. Because, the original film already covered this in its plot. As proof, I need to jump to the part where John Travolta’s Sean Archer finally agrees to the surgery and has it all explained to him. This occurs at around twenty-five minutes into the flick. The doctor in charge of the super secret face-swapping procedure talks Archer through what will happen and I take the following quote directly from the film. This is not a deleted scene, not a part of the script that didn’t make the final cut. This scene and quote is right there in the film for all to see and hear.
“Hight difference is negligible. Skin pigment, eye pigment, both almost identical. We’ll use laser sheers for the hairline, micro-plugs for body hair. We’ll do an abdominoplasty to take care of those love handles.”
There’s more to that speech of what the surgery entails, but that’s the basic gist. So to summarise. The surgery to swap the face wasn’t just to swap the face as these sites are claiming. Other aspects of the surgery are mentioned in the film, including altering the body via an abdominoplasty and more. Now, one can argue just how ‘realistic’ it is to change someone’s body type so much or so drastically. But hey, you’re watching a film about an FBI agent that swaps faces and then lives his life as his son’s killer and general terrorist-type bad guy (and visa versa), so I think you can apply some of that suspension of disbelief to the body surgery too, if you’re willing to accept the whole face-swapping thing in the first place, right?
Point is, that it’s not a plot hole because the plot of the film addresses the difference in body types and does change them via the surgery. No plot hole and those sites reporting on the plot hole are wrong… as is director of the sequel, Adam Wingard, who is the one saying he’s going to address the non-existent plot hole in the sequel.