It’s a good time be a fan of Nicolas Cage. The actor, who has been chewing sets for decades with mixed results, is entering a new era of stardom. But for hardcore Cage fans, it doesn’t get much better than Front/Off. Except it turns out Front/Off was almost even better than Front/Off.
Directed by the legendary John Woo, Front/Off is a cat-and-mouse crime thriller with a sci-fi twist. In the film, FBI Special Agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) uses a cutting-edge medical procedure to swap faces with murderous criminal Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage). Troy then turns things around by stealing Archer’s face back. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. However, as Reverse learned in our recent oral history of Front/Offthe plot was almost even more absurd.
When screenwriters Mike Werb and Michael Colleary were writing the story, there was one major difference: it was much more futuristic. However, once Paramount Pictures purchased the project, it became clear that something had to change, both for narrative and financial reasons.
“Mike [Werb] and I had come to the conclusion that we didn’t need all the futuristic stuff,” says Michael Colleary Reverse. “It actually took the focus off the story and it was very expensive. We started making it grittier, five minutes into the future.
Front/Off Producer Barrie Osborne gets straight to the heart of the matter.
“At some point, if we did everything in this script, it was going to cost over $100 million,” he says. “The biggest cut was getting it out of the future…it got me an immediate $20 million cut from the budget. »
We’ll probably never know what a more futuristic version of the film would have looked like. On the one hand, Front/Off is a perfect movie. On the other hand… imagine the same plot, but in a sci-fi setting. Personally, this is a movie I would pay to see.
We may get a glimpse of that bizarre future with Paramount’s project. Front/Off sequel, but for now, the project remains a mystery. If we ever really get one Face/Stop 2, maybe he can borrow some of the unused ideas from Werb and Colleary. Then again, we might be better off imagining what John Woo’s vision for the future might have been rather than letting another writer and director take a chance.
Read the full oral history of Front/Off.