I saw this film yesterday, and thinking back about it, I only remember the action scenes. I remember buildings exploding, boats exploding, piers exploding. Because that's what it's good at. But mind you, Face/Off is not your generic mindless mess; it is quite clever, but only so. The film sees a terrorist taking on the face of a honest cop, and the cop in turn taking the face of the terrorist. One does it for justice, the other for random pleasures. Now of course in a film like this, one can get confused, after all two personalities are getting mixed up. But don't worry, this film is probably the least confusing film you've ever seen, although it does try its best to catch you off guard. Heroic bloodshed and explosions aside, I liked the fact how the main focus of the film's spotlight was on the two characters, and not on the surroundings. Another other film, or any other director, would've made the specific places the characters find themselves in full characters of their own. Take a look at Shawshank, Green Mile and The Great Escape: the prisons too are characters. But the one shown here, although very ingenious, is so briefly shown, that it didn't even feel like it was there. I'm complaining, but in fact complimenting. The film is not a prison film, and long, extended scenes of the tedious, signature prison life would've slowed the film down.
Despite the fact it is quite well written and well directed, there are many scenes which are quite silly. When Archer and Troy (as each other) battle on the boats in the climatic scene, Archer hangs from the side of the boat, his feet touching the water. The speed the boat was going, and the force of the water, can severely damage the legs, if not break them. But over here we see him almost literally water-ski over it. Also, the character of Castor Troy was relentlessly evil, and this point is exaggerated many times in the film, and this made Troy a very unfinished, over the top, baseless character.
From the performances, I thoroughly enjoyed John Travolta as Sean Archer/Castor Troy. Although not a very detailed performance, his capturing of the small nuances in specific scenes was impressive. It was muscular in its own right, brutal in its distinct manner. Nicolas Cage once again plays another crazy character, once again giving us an entertaining performance. But I have to say, this is one of his least best ones, but solidly entertaining. When Nic Cage becomes Sean Archer, the crying, emotional scenes were surprisingly pathos. Never knew he had it in him. Joan Allen was impactful in her silent demeanor. I also liked the fact that she doesn't become the next Lucy Lawless in the climatic stand-off. You know, an uzi magically appears in her hand, and she unleashes hell. She was great. The rest of the cast were decent enough in their roles, although not as memorable.
In conclusion, Face/Off is an entertaining film. Don't expect a lot of deep thinking though; it is only an action film!