‘Face/Off 2’ Writer Wants to Capture These ‘Perfect’ and ‘Magical’ Qualities About the Original

When they make a movie sequel decades later, it can be hard to recapture what was so special about the original. Fans were largely happy with The Force Awakens, but Dumb and Dumber To seemed to turn its harmless idiot characters into aggressively destructive sociopaths. Face/Off came out in 1997. Face/Off 2 is just now in development nearly 25 years later. 

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Face/Off.]

Face/Off: John Travolta and Nicolas Cage point guns at each other
L-R: Nicolas Cage and John Travolta | Touchstone/Getty Images

Simon Barrett is writing Face/Off 2. His frequent partner Adam Wingard is directing. Barrett spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet about his latest film, Seance, and also shared what he’s hoping to recapture in Face/Off 2.

Simon Barrett calls the movie ‘Face/Off’ ‘perfect’ and ‘magical’

In Face/Off, Sean Archer (John Travolta) captures terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage). Troy is in a coma, so the only way for Archer to find out where he planted a bomb is to switch faces and go undercover. But, Troy wakes up and takes Archer’s face.

Directed by John Woo, there’s plenty of action in Face/Off, but the best part of the movie is how it takes the drama of this preposterous situation utterly sincerely. Barrett says he’s “very sensitive to the notion that this is this kind of perfect movie in some ways.”

It’s a real perfect combination of director, script, and cast. It’s hard to recreate. Face/Off really is like a magical movie and I say that with total sincerity. I think anyone who’s really a fan of it kind of understands what I mean which is it’s this hysterically funny film that never tips its hat or winks at you. Nicolas Cage and John Travolta are delivering two of the best performances you’ll ever see but they never stop to waste time. It’s really very special and enjoyable, still a fun movie 25 years later for all these reasons. 

Simon Barrett, interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 5/10/21

Can ‘Face/Off 2’ recapture the magic? 

Barrett wouldn’t spoil whether Face/Off 2 would feature another face swap. He did confirm Troy is still alive, and perhaps the story would deal with what these men learned from that experience.

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“What would their feelings about each other be now that you understand your nemesis more than any other human being really?” Barrett said. “Interesting questions. It’s been a lot of fun working on that one so far. We just have to hope the studio is down for our vision but we’ll see. We just turned the script in on that pretty recently so we’re waiting to hear a response.”

Simon Barrett cares about the Archer and Troy families 

Barrett agrees that the magic of Face/Off is how seriously it takes the drama of the Archer and Troy families. It sounds like he has plans to address that drama in Face/Off 2

I think Face/Off is a film about families and family. I do like that it begins with John Travolta losing his son and ends with him adopting basically an identical son to perfectly fill that son-shaped void in his life that Castor Troy created and Castor Troy solved by giving Sean Archer his son to adopt. That is more what Adam and I keep trying to remember as we write Face/Off 2. The insane action, terrific. Adam can do insane action scenes and I can help him construct them on a story level.

Simon Barrett, interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 5/10/21
Face/Off: Sean Archer and his son on the merry-go-round
John Travolta and Myles Jeffrey | Getty Images

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While wearing Archer’s face, Troy actually becomes a better father to Archer’s daughter, Jamie (Dominqiue Swain) than Archer was. He also sows the seeds of his own destruction by teaching Jamie how to defend herself with a butterfly knife. She ends up using it on him when she learns he’s not her father. 

“Adam is very capable of delivering some amazing shootouts at this point and some amazing R-rated, top of the line shootouts,” Barrett said. “But, that’s not my favorite part of Face/Off. My favorite part of Face/Off is Castor Troy as Sean Archer fixing his marriage with Joan Allen. What’s enjoyable about a body swap movie is seeing someone try to pretend to be someone else under insane circumstances. That’s the dynamic we want to really explore more than anything else because those are really the best scenes.”