From the tragic opening, stopping just short of Travolta shouting at the heavens, to Cage bellowing Handel's Messiah, to the showdown surrounded by Latin Orthodox iconography, this is an action-opera reveling in its own mythic theatricality. Batshit set pieces stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of the silent era, and recall the bygone days of stunt and pyrotechnical work that were sadly taken for granted.
I've seen "Face/Off" more times than I can count, but it never truly felt like a John Woo film until I saw it projected in 35mm; Woo's operatic vision is intended for the widest screen and loudest sound system you can find. The pairing of Travolta and Cage is one of those once-in-a-generation fusions of star power, and both actors are committed to bringing Woo's bullet-ridden Tragedy to life in a hail of sparks.
A cool concept where one takes a rather far-fetched idea: what if you change face with your worst enemy who also happens to be a cruel sadistic killer and add it with non-stop bullet rain that only action director John Woo can make sense of? Nicolas Cage groping a choir girl and Travolta licking Dominique Swain is the kind of the crazy over-the-top behavior that makes one think you see a dirty old man's dream.
"Movies this demented don't seem to get made anymore". Certainly not the peak of Woo's action sequences, but an undeniable film due to those two performances. That anyone would bother to criticise on rational terms when the film is operating on whole other levels of reality is strange to me. On blu-ray there were so many laughable stunt doubles, but really I'm just thankful it was legit stunt work at all.