Face/Off

1997’s Face/Off was famous Hong Kong director John Woo’s first foray into the US Film market.  After several action-packed films made in Hong Kong that garnered international acclaim and success, Woo decided to come to the world’s biggest motion picture market and wow American audiences.  He teamed up with a major studio, pulled in big name stars in Nicholas Cage and the resurgent John Travolta as leads, and proceeded to craft a nice, shiny, Hollywood turd of a movie.

Face/Off takes a relatively durable Hollywood theme of mistaken identity/changing places and makes a mockery of it.  The film tries to show the science that allows the swap to take place, which just allows the viewers to laugh at it for its stupidity.  It isn’t like most movies where the people who look like someone else are mistaken for that person by random strangers.  No, even the people who are closest to the main characters cannot tell they have been dealing with an imposter, who is essentially wearing a really good mask.

There are plenty of good possibilities and character development the movie could have explored.  What would a criminal do if he suddenly had a chance to be a high-powered law enforcement official, and how would that change him?  Would the cop be changed by being in the criminal underworld?  How would it feel to see your enemy taking your place?  These are concepts the movie brings up and then ignores in favor of banal, stupid, inane action scenes and cinematography.  The only good thing in this movie is the fine job Cage and Travolta do in switching roles.  It’s difficult to notice amongst all the implausible plot twists and exploding squibs, but it’s in there, and it’s the only redeeming thing the film possesses.

Maybe Woo’s magic doesn’t work in English.  Maybe my unfamiliarity with the real Hong Kong gave me a larger suspension of disbelief for those Hong Kong action ballets than I have for an American movie.  Maybe John Woo was corrupted by Hollywood, or he just overreached in his freshman film.  Either way, what he wrought was a rolling calamity of a movie that proves that whoever approves scripts in Hollywood has no respect for the intelligence of the US moviegoer.


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 || Chapter 22 || Chapter 23 | Comments


Chapter 1: 0:00 – 6:33

John Travolta’s character, Sean Archer, is playing with his son on a merry-go-round while Nicholas Cage’s character, Castor Troy, watches him from a concealed copse of trees.  Troy has a sniper rifle and he shoots Archer in the shoulder while Archer is hugging his son.  The bullet goes through Archer and kills Archer’s son.

The scene shifts ahead six years.  Archer is now a decorated FBI agent in charge of an anti-terrorism task force.  Other agents walk around an office while Archer places his gun in a holster.  An agent pulls up Castor Troy’s record; he is a known terrorist who has assassinated at least two people.  Troy is seen dressed as a priest, smoking a cigarette and setting a bomb in a building in Los Angeles.  Archer complains to his team that there is no new information.  Castor sets the bomb and walks away while a church choir sings.  Castor walks in front of the choir and dances provocatively.  A pretty girl in the front of the choir drops her music sheet and Castor picks it up.  He talks to her vulgarly and squeezes her butt, which she seems to like.  A sign for the building says there is a choir convention and a meeting of the American Bar Association.

Analysis

As if Archer’s position as an FBI counterterror agent wasn’t enough to make him want to catch terrorist Castor Troy, Castor killed Archer’s son.  Not only did he kill Archer’s son, but it appears he did it on purpose.  Archer and his son are playing on a merry-go-round with no one else on it.  Castor is hiding out in plain sight, with a clear view of the target, and thus with anyone having a clear view of him.  Rather than wait for them to stop going around in circles, Castor decides he’s a good enough shot to hit the Archers while they’re moving and there are plastic horses obstructing his view.  Castor hits Archer and his son.  Since Archer is crawling on the ground towards his scion, obviously alive, and Castor doesn’t just shoot him again, we can conclude that Archer’s son was the target.  Who knows why he killed Archer’s son?

Archer is now a big shot in the FBI and is apparently a terrible boss.  He yells at his hardworking team because the LAPD isn’t moving quickly enough for his liking.  Castor, for his part, is up to his old terrorist tricks.  He’s planting a bomb in a support structure for some convention center.  His target is either a group of church choirs or the American Bar Association, for some reason.  Now, Castor is smart to dress like a priest so he can blend in, but he then starts acting like a jackass, making his disguise moot.  He also interrupts a choir that was singing to no audience just to further break his cover by grabbing a girl’s ass.  She, being a nice church girl, doesn’t mind a stranger cursing at her and molesting her, and no one else in the choir is disturbed by the priest showing up and grabbing the ass of a member of their group.

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Chapter 2: 6:34 – 12:45

Archer is back in his office on the phone when one of his team comes in and tells him that they found a plane chartered by Castor’s brother, Pollux.  At the airport, Castor arrives at the plane.  Castor is presented with a box full of items and you can see that he has twin golden guns in holsters on his back.  Castor chides Pollux for using his own money and name to charter the plane.  Castor refuses to pay the men with Pollux because they were supposed to protect Pollux from everything, including himself. Castor also tells them to “avoid LA on the 18th” as it will be smoggy.  Castor has the flight attendant sit on his lap and suck his tongue.

As the plane is preparing to take off, Archer and his team drive onto the tarmac with other police cars and a helicopter.  The flight attendant reveals herself as an FBI agent and pulls out her weapon, but Pollux overpowers her.  Castor puts a gun to the pilot’s head and tells him to fly the plane.  Archer drives his Humvee directly at the plane but veers when he sees the agent in the cockpit with Castor holding a gun to her head.  Archer tells the team to box the plane in and Castor opens the plane door, shoots the agent, and then throws her onto the runway.  Archer commandeers the helicopter, and places it on the tail of the plane, preventing it from taking off.  He then shoots the plane’s engines   The pilot tells Castor the engine is out and Castor shoots him.

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Analysis

How did Castor and Pollux avoid capture for so long when they make idiotic mistakes like putting their names on a manifest for a chartered flight?  Pollux is supposed to be paranoid, so why does he take such risks? Castor mentions this to Pollux but doesn’t seem that concerned about it since he gets on the plane anyway.  He’s not very wise with his henchmen either.  He puts money in their faces and then pulls it back.  If they are only in it for the money, what’s to stop them from killing the brothers and taking the giant wad of cash?  If the henchman aren’t just in it for the money, why is Castor such a dick to them?

If the FBI had the time to put a fake flight attendant on the plane, why not put a whole SWAT team on it?  Did she just happen to be on the plane?  How did she make it to the airport (in her flight attendant uniform) before Archer made it in his helicopter?  How did the helicopter get there at the same time as the cars when it’s so much faster?  Did it slow down to wait for them?  When they get to the tarmac, it’s flying behind the cars.  The whole point of to using a helicopter over a car is that it’s faster, so why slow it down?  And how does Archer get in front of the plane when everyone else is behind it?  For that matter, why does the plane have a) fuel and b). clearance from air traffic control to fly?

Of course, the FBI agent can’t handle the bookish Pollux and she can’t dodge a briefcase or fire a shot before being hit by said briefcase.  The pilot is worried about being shot and that makes sense, but Castor really has no leverage in this situation.  If he shoots the pilot, he can’t fly the plane – and it’s already moving so it would crash with him in it. Castor clearly isn’t good with improvisation.  Even if the plan worked and the plane did take off, Castor can’t control where it goes.  The pilot could take it anywhere.  And wherever he took it, the police would be waiting because tracking a plane in the US is rather easy.

When Archer swerves, he comes to a stop, as do the other vehicles that were pursuing the plane.  Yet in seconds, they have regained the speed of the plane.  That is some serious acceleration.  When Castor looks at Archer’s car speeding towards him he can somehow make out Archer across the vast expanse of the runway, through one tiny window, through the distortion of the heat, and through yet another tiny window and sun glare.  He must have eaten a lot of carrots as a young boy.  Then again, Archer can see that Castor has the FBI agent at gunpoint through the same conditions.

 

 


Crashing the Plane

How long is this runway?”

— MOVIECLIPS.com

Archer taking over the helicopter is hysterical.  Why did it land in the first place?  Sure, an agent was down but there were ten cars full of people to help.  And why does Archer tell the pilot to leave?  Presumably, the helicopter pilot is a better helicopter pilot than Archer is, because otherwise Archer would have been piloting the helicopter in the first place.  But I guess that’s not true, because Archer is such a good pilot he can essentially land a helicopter on the back of a plane that is accelerating.  That would mean that not only can Archer pull off this feat but the helicopter can accelerate as quickly as a jet and it can maintain this speed while flying sideways! All this is done in the plane’s jet wash, no less. Castor is able to open the door to the plane, while it’s going fast enough to take off, and to aim perfect shots at a moving target.  I guess he doesn’t feel wind. Also, the pilot doesn’t think to swerve while Castor is hanging out of the plane.

Archer shoots the engines of the plane in response.  He does this with a handgun.  He also does this while keeping a helicopter straight and level in the jet wash of a plane.  He further does this while sticking his arm out a window while travelling at a speed great enough to allow a plane to take off.  He also is not affected by wind.

Last, what happened to the two guys Castor refused to pay?  They disappeared.  Didn’t one of the 50 police officers there see them and scoop them up?

Chapter 3: 12:46 – 18:17

After killing the pilot, Castor steers the plane into a storage hangar.  Castor and Pollux jump out of the plane, shooting at the police.  Castor manages to kill a few officers.  Archer lands the helicopter and jumps on top of a police car and opens fire at Castor and Pollux.  Two agents capture Pollux.  Castor sees his brother captured and hides in the hangar.  Archer goes in search of Castor and they engage in a running gun fight.  Castor manages to kill more agents and a stray bullet turns on a jet engine in the hangar.  Archer catches up to Castor and they hold each other at gun point.

While pointing their weapons at each other at point blank range, Castor and Archer have a discussion.  Each has one bullet left in his gun.  Castor talks about the bomb he set and mocks Archer’s devotion to catching him.  Castor also shows knowledge of Archer’s personal life and family.  Castor pulls the trigger but nothing happens and he surrenders.  Castor tries to stab Archer but Archer blocks the knife, and presses a button on the engine’s control panel.  The engine blows Castor into a grate, knocking him unconscious.

Analysis

I feel analysis is not necessary.   Reading the straight description should be enough to realize how stupid this part is.  But that’s not why we’re here.  I don’t know why Castor decides to steer into a hangar.  I guess for cover. I don’t know why all the FBI agents chose to form up at the door.  I mean, they now have the terrorist trapped in a box.  A very big box, sure, but a box nonetheless.  Just wait, throw in some tear gas, send for a full SWAT team, and capture him.  Nope, instead they all form up and get shot.  I also don’t know why driving a plane through a hangar door results in it erupting in sparks like Roy Hobbs hit a home run into it.  Actually, everything in that hangar gives off sparks.  I guess that airport stored all their fireworks in that hangar.

Castor is the greatest pistol shooter ever.  When he jumps out the plane, he is shooting at targets that are behind cover 20 yards away. He’s not aiming, and he’s shooting one-handed while moving laterally and falling.  Seriously, that’s everything you could do to make a shot more difficult except close your eyes and not have hands.  Shooting one-handed makes it terribly difficult to control recoil, but maybe his wrists are THAT strong.  Moving makes it really hard to shoot because your point of aim is changing, but maybe his brain is just THAT good at aiming.  Not lining up the weapon’s sights prevents you from making a straight shot every time, as you can’t keep the barrel pointed directly at the target. But maybe his hand-eye coordination is THAT good.  Also, he isn’t fazed by dropping onto his side from ten feet after plummeting to the concrete floor.  Clearly, his bones are THAT dense because he doesn’t seem to even bruise his shoulder.

Of course, it makes you wonder why the police are such bad shots.  There are over 30 of them and all they have to do is point their weapons at the door of the plane.  There’s no other place for Castor to exit, unless he’s going to somehow jump out of the engine.  They can’t even hit him when he predictably crashes to the floor.  They are helpless to defend themselves until Archer does the silliest thing he can think of and runs up on top of a car instead of behind it.  Archer then proceeds to shoot one-handed while running, making absolutely certain that he will spray rounds without being able to control where they go.

The police sneak up on Pollux and the stunt double for Margaret Cho kicks him.  Seriously, google Margaret Cho and imagine her kicking anything other than a diet.  Castor sees Pollux’s situation and hides.  Does he shoot the FBI agents who are handcuffing and kicking his brother? No, why would he do that?  Somehow, the 30 cops lost sight of him and he is able to climb up into the ceiling.  He opens fire on them and suddenly there are only seven agents in the hangar.  Where did all the police go?  There was a whole gang of them when Archer entered the hangar.  With Castor at an elevated position, everyone could see him from wherever they were and could shoot the hell out of him.  Nope, they’re just gone.   For that matter, where the fuck did the plane go?

Also, look at the guy Castor shoots with the shotgun.  He is hit in the front, with the round coming from just to his left.  And yet, he is lifted off the ground and thrown in the same direction as the shotgun blast.  Good stunt work.

Archer and Castor shoot at each other and obviously Castor isn’t THAT good.  He was just THAT lucky.  He can’t seem to hit Archer even though for once he’s relatively close and in a good shooting position.  Archer ends up behind Castor and they have the standard movie stand-off.  Two men, with loaded weapons pointed at each other in a tense, one to one tied situation.  Only, it’s not a tie.  Whoever shoots first wins.  That’s it.  For some reason, neither shoots when they have a contact shot, with the barrel of the weapon actually touching the target and thus no chance of missing. They have just fired at each other in a manner that can only be described as haphazard, but when it’s a sure thing, mere inches away, they decide to parlay.  Of course, in the midst of that chaos they were able to count not only their own rounds but the rounds fired by the other guy.

 


We Both Know Our Guns


Shouldn’t there be more people in this scene, and a plane?

— MOVIECLIPS.com

Archer, rather than call his team in to assist in the arrest of Castor, decides to stand there like a dolt and let Castor ramble.  Castor finally realizes “Hey let me just pull the trigger on this dumbshit”, but the last round in his weapon is a dud.  It has to be.  The chamber couldn’t be empty or else the slide would be locked back.  A quick comment on Castor’s weapons – why are they gold?  He’s supposed to be a master assassin and terrorist and those people generally try not to be noticed.  Why have such conspicuous weapons?  Is he going to shoot James Bond?

Finally, Archer uses the jet engine to blast Castor into a grate.  Um, why is there a gassed up jet engine sitting in a hangar with a bunch of boxes and a firework-laced superstructure?  Also, how is Castor not horribly burned by being subjected to the hot exhaust from a jet engine?

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Chapter 4 :18:18- 23:48

Archer drives home and finds his daughter, Jamie, fighting with his wife, Eve.  Eve is upset at Jamie because Jamie was suspended from school.  Jamie complains that Archer doesn’t know who she is.  Archer tells Eve that he got Castor and they hug.  He apologizes and says he will put in for a job that has him home more often.

Archer goes into work and everyone applauds him.  Someone brings him a bottle of champagne from the CIA and he wonders about the agents who died.  Archer reviews the case file of the death of his son.  He closes the case but Special Ops comes in with a disk taken from Pollux’s briefcase.  It shows the bomb that Castor planted earlier in the movie.

Archer watches Pollux be interrogated but Pollux says he won’t talk until he sees Castor.  The FBI director tells Archer he won’t evacuate the city on a hunch and Archer says he knows Castor too well for it to be a hunch.  He tells the director to run the FBI however he wants.  Agent Miller from Special Ops says they can put someone in Pollux’s cell but Archer says Pollux won’t talk to anyone other than his brother, who is dead.  The agent tells Archer there is another possibility. 

Analysis

This is the calm before the bullshit storm but even it has some great moments.  Archer goes home rather than interrogate any witnesses.  He is thrilled about capturing his son’s killer but has to defuse a teenage spat first.  Then he tells his wife “it’s over”, referring to Castor, and that he’ll seek counseling and take a desk job.  So, that means he has gone six years after seeing his son die in front of him without counseling.  It’s too late now, Archer.  Also, that means he headed a clandestine FBI counter-terrorism group just to catch Castor.  Now that he did, fuck it, let someone less qualified capture terrorists.  I suppose he was never interested in protecting the country in the first place.

The description of the death of Archer’s son, Michael, is great.  The FBI report on it is only one paragraph and they saw fit to put in,, “died in his father’s arms”.  Also, they say that Castor was trying to kill Archer, and not his son.  How do they know that?  As we discussed before, Castor could have easily killed  Archer, if he had gone to the trouble of firing a second shot.  Archer is a skilled debater as well.  He tells the Director, “It’s not a hunch, I know Castor too well”.  See what he did there?  He said it wasn’t a hunch because it came from his own personal knowledge of how someone thinks.  If it were based on evidence, then it would be a hunch.  He further tells the FBI Director to run the FBI the way he wants.  That’s sort of the exact job description of the FBI director, so I’m sure the Director is glad to have Archer reconfirm his job while yelling at him.

Finally, Archer is in charge of an anti-terrorism unit within the FBI.  Why is he so concerned with Castor, aside from the death of his son?  Castor is not a terrorist.  He is a mercenary/assassin.  He does not use violence against civilian populations to convince a government to change policies.  He just takes money and kills people.  Archer should be focusing on who pays him.

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Chapter 5: 23:49 – 29:20

Agent Miller takes Archer to the Walsh Institute, where Castor is being kept alive while in a vegetative state.  Archer meets Malcolm Walsh, who runs the Biocover Unit for Special Ops.  Walsh is able to alter the appearance and voice of government witnesses and is constructing a new ear for Agent Loomis, who was wounded capturing Castor.  Walsh tells Archer he can remove Castor’s face and place it on Archer’s face so Archer can go undercover.  He discusses how to manage the difference in bone structure, body shape, and hair.  Archer refuses, instead preferring to get Castor’s gang to talk.

Archer talks to members of Castor’s gang.  Sasha, a woman who harbored Castor, says she hasn’t seen Castor in years, even when Archer threatens to have her son put in foster care.  Sasha’s brother, Dietrich, hints he might know something about the bomb but taunts Archer about Archer’s dead son.  Archer puts a gun to his face and he tells Archer that all he knows is something about the 18th.  Sasha and her brother walk out of the FBI headquarters and Archer eventually decides to follow Special Ops’ plan.  It’s a black bag operation, however, and he can’t tell anyone about it.

Analysis

Special Ops is clearly not concerned with laws.  They’re keeping Castor alive without notifying next of kin, and Agent Miller has no problem with smoking near a hospital bed and putting out a lit cigarette on Castor’s arm.  Of course, since she plans on having someone’s face removed and slapped it onto another person, she is clearly not concerned with things like “cruel and unusual punishment”.  Rather than go through all the turmoil of trying to trick Pollux, I think Special Ops should take him to the Walsh institute and tell him, “Give us the location of the bomb, or we will cut off your fucking face!” I mean seriously, the US Government is going to cut someone’s face off?  That is all kinds of fucked up.

And why is this Walsh guy working for the government?  He has new anti-inflammatory drugs that allow him to change the shape of a person’s face into another person, trim down belly fat, replace hair and have it all be fully healed in days.  He needs to run to patent this.  He would be a billionaire.  Sure, stopping inflammation is good, but how does that increase the rate at which tissue regenerates? Further, doctors are shown using a laser to essentially solder Loomis’ ear back on without burn marks or anything.  It’s spontaneous creation of new cells from damaged ones.  That’s probably the biggest medical advance since penicillin.  You could possibly laser away cancer, or reverse the effects of aging, but Walsh figures he’ll just keep it to himself so he can ghoulishly swap people’s faces.

I will give credit to the screenwriters for one thing.  They made a modicum of effort to explain the different facial features by saying they would put a mask over Archer’s face so that it would match Castor’s face.  Of course, that raises the issue of size.  As anyone can plainly see Archer, has roughly the same size head and face as John Travolta, who is not known for having a small head.  Walsh wants to add a 1/8 inch piece of plastic, complete with little topographical features and then try to stretch a face over that. I’m willing to bet Nicholas Cage’s face wouldn’t fit on Travolta’s head under the best of circumstances (whatever they might be), and adding more girth isn’t going to help.

Even if the face transplant is flawless, how is Archer supposed to imitate Castor?  He might know him well, but he doesn’t know Castor’s day-to-day activities.  He doesn’t know little phrases and idiosyncrasies, or childhood stories.  He wouldn’t know details or passwords or anything like that.  If someone had an identical twin with the same haircut and clothes, that person couldn’t go to his/her twin’s job and pass.  The co-workers would know there was something wrong in no time.  This is an incredibly stupid, ridiculous, illegal, and macabre plan, and Archer is right to say no.

Plus, Archer seems to know where all of Castor’s confederates are.  He rounds them up in no time (I guess they live in Los Angeles?), and he brings them in for questioning. Why didn’t he do this earlier? He knows, somehow, that Sasha has harbored Castor in the past but apparently hasn’t been keeping an eye on her because he doesn’t know when she last saw Castor.  He brings in Sasha’s brother, Deitrich, and jams a gun in his face, clearly no longer worried about breaking the law.  What he should have done is threatened to remove his face and make him look like Walter Matthau or something.  Instead, Deitrich admits that he heard something about the 18th.  Since that guy clearly knows something, they promptly let him and his sister walk out of their offices, presumably so they can escape the blast radius of whatever bomb Castor has planted.

Archer is so distraught about his shitty police work that he decides to go through with the stupendously illegal, immoral, and foolish plan of trying to convince Castor’s closest advisors and compatriots that he is actually Castor.  However, he can’t tell anyone he’s doing this.  Special Ops will  tell the FBI that their top counter-terrorism team leader is going to be unavailable for a few days while they search for a bomb in Los Angeles.  I’m sure they won’t mind.  I can see not telling his wife.  She’s a doctor and would probably want to know why the technology they’re using to trample someone’s rights and remove his face isn’t being put to use on burn victims or what have you.  But how do they expect the rest of the FBI not to wonder where Archer went during the search for the bomb?

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Chapter 6: 29:21 – 38:50

Archer goes home and his wife is happy he has returned.  They have a discussion where she says things will get better now that Castor is dead and Archer says he has one more assignment.  Eve is upset but tells him to do whatever he has to do.

Archer goes to the Walsh Institute and his fellow agent, Tito, tells him not to undergo the operation.  Archer decides to anyway and asks Dr. Walsh to restore the scar from where Castor shot him once the bomb is located.  He gives his wedding ring to Tito and tells him to hold on to it.

Archer undergoes the operation.  The surgeons use a laser to cut around the edges of his face, then remove his face, and place it in a tank.  They then cut and dye Archer’s hair.  They remove Castor’s face then place it on Archer’s head.

Archer wakes and sees his new face and goes nuts, smashing the mirror.  Tito calm hims down and reassure him he is still Sean Archer.  Archer tells Dr. Walsh to burn Castor’s face once the mission is over and Walsh agrees.  Archer notices he still sounds like himself.  Dr. Walsh attaches a microchip to his larynx to change the sound of his voice.

Analysis

The scene with Archer and his wife could be entirely removed.  All it shows how obsessed they both are with Castor.  Eve says it will all be better now that Castor is out of their lives forever.  Well, it’s been six years since their son died, so why are they still hanging on to Castor?  Get some therapy.  Also, if they wanted him out of their lives, Archer could have just transferred to computer crimes, or kidnapping.  Nope, he chose to stay on the hunt for Castor, intentionally keeping him in their lives.

The operation is an absolute farce.  The doctor makes cuts on the face with some sort of laser and he does it by hand.  He’s not even using a computer model to guide the cutting.  He’s just eyeballing it.  How are the cuts on Archer and Castor supposed to match up?  Also, he’s burning the skin.  Burnt skin is essentially destroyed.  So Archer’s face, when returned, will be missing a lot of skin.  I guess they can shave some bone out to make his face smaller.  Lord knows he could use it.  He has a bit of an Easter Island thing going on there.

They cut around the face and somehow just pull the face off with suction.  They don’t cut the connective tissue that holds the skin to the muscles, bones, and cartilage of the face.  It’s as if Archer’s face is attached to his skull only at the forehead and along the jawline. They just rip it off without doing any damage and there isn’t even any bleeding!  The entire surgery could and should have happened off camera.  By showing the surgery, they show how many holes are in this dumb ass plot point.  The doctor mentions that they will have to reattach muscles and tear ducts, in a previous scene.  Of course, this begs the question of how they were severed in the first place.  Dr. Walsh  proceeds to slap the face on like he’s helping his kid with some arts and crafts project.  There is no careful reattachment of the muscles and tear ducts, it’s just some sort of super glue.  Then again, this makes sense because there is a plastic Castor mask under the skin.  Therefore THERE IS NO WAY THEY COULD HAVE CONNECTED THE TISSUE!  How could no one have realized this mistake? How is Archer to imitate Castor now?  Is he going to be Castor as if he suffered a catastrophic stroke? He can’t even blink! How are his eyes going to function?  With that plastic mask under the skin, he’ll have fewer facial expressions than a painting of a bowl of fruit.  They might as well have given him a Castor Troy Halloween costume with a lame mask and a plastic smock with a picture of Castor Troy on it.

Here’s something else that Walsh conveniently forgot – the body rejecting the skin.  They have different blood types, so how is Archer’s body going to accept this foreign tissue growing on it?  The body’s immune system is rather fickle about what it allows.  That’s why skin grafts don’t come from donors, they come from the same patient. Walsh also seems to have forgotten about the person’s mouth.  Did they do dental reconstruction as well to give Archer Castor’s horse teeth?

Not only is this operation doomed to fail and yet magically working, but they do it in an afternoon.  Tito and the Special Ops agent are wearing the same clothes so I assume it’s the same day.  Also, it kind of has to be done quickly or that bomb will explode.  How did they get the skin to attach so quickly and seamlessly?  That is a miracle and again – Walsh needs a patent.

The voice-altering microchip is bullshit.  There are so many things that go into a person’s voice, more than just the larynx – the length of the vocal chords, the shape of the mouth, etc..  A microchip isn’t going to fix that unless it can somehow work the chords like some sort of micro-puppeteer.

Finally, Archer wants Dr. Walsh to burn Castor’s face when he’s done with it.  How fucked up is that?  Just burn his face?  What if (spoiler alert) Castor awoke from his coma without his face and asked what happened?  “Sorry Mr. Castor, we were done with your face so we just burned it.  I’m sure you understand.”

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Chapter 7: 38:51 – 45:29

Tito takes Archer, who now looks like Castor, to a helicopter to be transported to prison.  Archer has twodays to get Pollux to talk before they take him out of the undercover operation.  Archer sees his team and they mention that Archer will be pissed when he returns from his training operation in Georgia.

Archer is taken to Erehwon Prison.  He is in a dark room.  The guards come in and tell him the prison is “outside of the Geneva Convention” and that Amnesty International is unaware of the prison.  Archer has to don boots that contain a tracking device and allow the guards to magnetically lock him, as as prisoner, to the floor.  The guards put Archer into the prison population.

The other prisoners, thinking Archer is Castor, start a fight.  Archer is losing and he sees Pollux look at him dubiously.  He gets up and proceeds to savagely beat another inmate while the others cheer.  Archer is about to kill the inmate, Duboff , but stops.  The lead guard, Walton, says he is the one who stops the fights and Archer tells him that when he gets out of prison, he will have Walton fired.

Analysis

Training in the swamp, really?  That’s what the Special Ops for the FBI comes up with to explain why the head of the counter-terror unit in Los Angeles isn’t involved in finding a bomb in the city.  And the nimrods on Archer’s team just lap it up.  Wouldn’t they wonder why the training couldn’t be pushed back or if Archer could just catch the next class?  What training could possibly be more important than FINDING A BOMB?! Also, what kind of training is a high level FBI supervisor conducting in a swamp?  Are they preparing for the Legion of Doom?

This prison is hysterical.  First, it’s not known by Amnesty International?  So that would mean that essentially no one knows about it.  How is that possible?  There are hundreds of prisoners in that place. Presumably, they were sentenced there after some court proceeding, unless they’re all people wearing other people’s faces.  So, wouldn’t they be asking for their attorneys from time to time?  Are ALL of them being kept in hiding and deprived of their rights?  How much money does it take to run that facility?  I mean, the whole place is a magnet, and they have electronic boots for everyone?  You’d think someone in Congress looking to trim the budget might wonder about the multi-million line item for Erehwon.  Also, those boots are a serious health hazard.  What if you’re walking or moving when they lock it down?  That is all kinds of sprained knees waiting to happen.  When do they shower?  Talk about some health issues – athlete’s foot for everyone.

So, we know that this is essentially an illegal prison being run with at least the tacit approval of the US Government, and yet they can’t tell the prison that it’s not really Castor.  Clearly, the staff at Erehwon prison is good at keeping secrets since that place hadn’t been shut down in a scandal that ruined someone’s political career.  These are the best secret-keeping dudes in the government, so you might as well tell them about Archer.  And, on the prison guards’ screen showing the location of the prisoners, why are some of the prisoners showing as purple dots and others as yellow?  Are those the guards?  Are they also wearing boots?

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Chapter 8: 45:30 – 54:17

Back at the Walsh Institute, Castor Troy wakes.  He realizes he is missing his face and is distraught.  He calls his henchman Leo, who brings Dr. Walsh back to the institute.  Walsh asks what Castor wants and Castor tells him to guess.

Archer talks to Pollux, who is suspicious of Archer because he doesn’t seem entirely like Castor. Archer convinces Pollux he is Castor by remembering the drugs Pollux takes, and nothing else.  They talk about the bomb and Pollux mentions the LA Coliseum.  Archer smiles, thanks him, and calls him pathetic.

While Archer waits in his cell, Guard Walton tells him he has a visitor.  Archer is taken to a room and his boots are locked to the floor.  Into the room walks Castor, now wearing Archer’s face.  Castor shows Archer a newspaper article about the Walsh Institute burning down and tells Archer how he burned Walsh, Tito, and Miller to death and destroyed any evidence of the swap.  Castor tells Archer he is going to abuse his position as an FBI Agent, and sleep with Archer’s wife.  Archer attacks him and the guards come in and subdue Archer.

Analysis

Oddly, Pollux was initially suspicious of Archer-as-Castor. Even though Pollux is famously paranoid, why would he suspect that it wasn’t really his brother without interacting with him first?  If you saw someone who looked just like your brother in a place where you expected your brother to appear, would you think “Nah, It’s probably just someone wearing my brother’s face.” Still, the plan worked.  Archer very easily tricked the idiot Pollux into believing he was Castor.

Next up, the major plot point of the movie; that Castor acquires Archer’s face and thus his identity.  It sets up the rest of the movie and it’s so fraught with incredulity that I can only say – “Bullshit, thy name is Face/Off. “

First, Castor is just alone in the Walsh Institute while in a coma.  This is a ghastly violation of the Hippocratic Oath, even in the face (pun intended) of removing someone’s face without permission.  What if Castor’s condition worsened?  What if he awoke?  There are all sorts of things that could have happened that would require at least an RN on duty if not an armed guard.

Second, Castor wakes from a coma, apparently no worse for the wear.  He quickly realizes he has had his face removed, and that it is still bleeding for some reason.  Why is it still bleeding?  Wouldn’t it have started scabbing over?  Anyway, Castor is somehow not in excruciating pain.  His entire face is an open wound, which would probably lead to it feeling like he was going bobbing for acid.  He should have been screaming in pain or whimpering.  Instead, he just removes the bandages, which seems not to cause him any pain and he realizes that his face has been removed.  He has about five minutes or so of freaking out, then he comes up with a plan.

I know that Castor is supposed to be some sort of sociopathic genius, but come on.  He came up with a plan in that short of a time?  He woke up without a face!  I can’t stress that enough.  I don’t know what kind of childhood he had but nothing, nothing, could POSSIBLY prepare him or anyone for waking up WITHOUT A FACE!!  That might be enough to shock him back into a coma.  Undaunted by not having a face (I mean seriously, he woke up without a FACE!!!), he calls his goon Leo, who should have been arrested at the airport along with Castor and Pollux, but somehow is walking around free and is taking Castor’s calls after Castor refused to pay him.

Third, Leo is some sort of savant with directions or he’s just a lifelong Los Angeles native who knows where everything is in Los Angeles.  Castor has the wherewithal to figure out he’s in the Walsh Institute (wouldn’t his eyes dry up without eyelids?) and Leo knows where that is.  Not only that, but Leo is aware of the location of the founder of the Walsh Institute, the eponymous Dr. Walsh.  Leo is able to pick up Walsh, who for some reason, agrees to accompany him.  Even harder to believe, Leo also seems to know where Agent Tito and Agent Miller live.  This takes place in 1991.  There is no Google, no GPS in the phones, no Mapquest, not even Alta Vista!  I don’t know how they found the addresses of the two FBI agents, or even how they knew which two agents to kidnap.  I guess Walsh told them.

Fourth, why is Walsh cooperating with them?  Why would he name the agents who were involved?  I understand he might go to the institute with the armed men because he doesn’t want to be killed, but once he makes it to his institute, you’d think he would realize he holds all the cards.  If Walsh tells Castor he won’t put Archer’s face on him, what is Castor going to do?  Castor can’t just grab Archer’s face and run off to find a black market face surgeon.  Castor’s goons are going to realize that Castor is essentially done in life because, you know, his face is now literally a bloody mess.  Even if Walsh initially agrees to operate on Castor, Castor is going to be anesthetized during the operation.  Walhs could have killed Castor easily and ended the whole thing. I guess he figured that once he had performed the surgery, and was one of the only people alive who knew that Castor was wearing Archer’s face, that the terrorists would give him a firm handshake, a couple of atta-boys, and send him a nice Christmas card every year. Walsh had to know they’d kill him. Why perform the surgery?

Instead, Walsh decides to cooperate with the terrorists.  He manages to attach Archer’s face to Castor’s without the slick plastic mask.  So, with the first transplant, Archer had no muscle-to-skin attachment because there was plastic between.  In the second one, they forget that bullshit and the fact that Archer’s face is not going to fit the bone structure of Castor’s skull without the mask.  Did John Woo read the script?  Walsh also was able to grow hair, and make Castor fatter.  Is there such thing as a fat transplant?  Wouldn’t that lead to even more organ rejection than just the face?   Finally, how did they get the voice microchip to work without a recording of Archer’s voice?  Why would Walsh put that in as well?

Walsh must be the one who told Castor about Agents Miller and Tito, but why would he do that?  How does he know that they’re the only ones who know about the transplant?  Or are we to believe that somehow Miller and Tito coughed up that information?

 


It’s Like Looking in a Mirror


The story is already in the new paper!

— MOVIECLIPS.com

Fifth, how did Leo and his partner capture Miller and Tito?  Sure, maybe the meek doctor would go gently into that good night, but two trained FBI counter-terrorism agents being confronted by a known terrorist confederate?  And just think of the timing.  Either Leo had to wait until after the operation was complete and Castor was awake and able to defend himself before leaving to get the agents, or he left Castor alone with a doctor who had cut off his face the previous afternoon.  Or, one of Castor’s goons stayed behind to watch Walsh while the other went and was able to overcome Tito and Miller.  Or, one goon went and grabbed one of the FBI agents, and brought him or her back, and then left that agent with Walsh and one goon and a comatose Castor.  Then that goon went back and grabbed the other agent.  There’s no way that works!

Once the operation is done and Walsh, Miller, and Tito are all at the institute, Castor tapes them to chairs and burns the entire institute down.  Why didn’t at least Tito and Miller fight like their lives depended on it? How could they be so meekly sitting in those chairs?  Also, wouldn’t the tape burn and release them?

Sixth, how does Castor think he’s going to get away with this?  Those bodies are going to be identified and people will wonder why Walsh, Miller, and Tito were all hanging out at the Walsh Institute in the middle of the night, burning to death in chairs.  And, little does Castor know it, but he will show up as Archer one day after supposedly going to Georgia for training.

Seventh, how does Castor find Archer in prison?  Did Castor know the US government had a top secret, illegal prison and just decide to keep that information to himself?  How did he get there?  He says he destroyed all the evidence of the transplant but how does he know that?  Also, he killed Walsh, Miller, and Tito but there were a bunch of lab technicians present for the Archer operation as well.  Did they die off camera?  Did the screenwriter forget about them?  Did anyone troubleshoot this script? How could this travesty stand?

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Chapter 9: 54:18 – 59:10

Castor drives through the neighborhood where Archer lives.  He sees Eve coming out of a house and realizes that it’s Archer’s home.  He has a talk with Eve, in which she warms to the way Castor interacts with her.  Castor looks through Archer’s journal and sees that Archer and Eve haven’t made love in months.  Castor then talks to Archer’s daughter Jamie and takes a cigarette from her.  She also likes the changes in her father.

In Erehwon prison, Pollux is being released.  Guard Walton tells Archer that Pollux cut a deal with Archer (really Castor).  Archer tries to tell Walton that there is a bomb in the LA Coliseum but Walton doesn’t listen.

Analysis

Well, apparently the FBI  gives Archer free reign to do whatever he wants.  Rather than being called in to the office reguarding the deaths of two agents, one of whom was his closest friend and co-worker, he can just drive home for a nooner.  Again, Castor is a master of LA geography, as he figures out where Archer’s house is without knowing the actual street address.  Also, he somehow knows the name of Archer’s wife and daughter.

Castor is able to cut a deal with Pollux, which is amazing.  As an FBI agent, he would have arrest power but no power to alter sentencing or incarceration. That would lie with the US Attorney.  Then again, Castor isn’t really an FBI agent so he wouldn’t know that.  Also, I guess the US Attorney wouldn’t know since that would mean the judicial system is in on this illegal prison as well.  So, then, who is in charge of the sentencing?  Clearly, they must all be in for life sentences because any prisoner who was let out would go to the press to talk about the terrible conditions and lack of Fifth Amendment rights, so they could sue the hell out of the government.  All of which begs the questions – with whom could Pollux cut a deal, and why would the guards ever let anyone out?

Once Archer knew that Castor was out wearing his face, why didn’t he do one of two things?

  1. Tell the guards/warden who he really was and divulge all sorts of information that only he knew to prove it.  When that failed, have them check his fingerprints and dental records.  The idiot who wrote the script forgot about those identifiers.  They could solve that identity issue in less than a day.
  2. Act as Castor Troy and demand to speak to someone because he wants to cut a deal.  Demand to see an attorney. Demand to talk to the Justice Department.  Demand to talk to someone else in the FBI – he must know someone, right?  Once he is in contact with someone other than the bullying doofus Walton, he could spill the beans and fix the situation.  Even a shambling moron like Guard Walton would have to take threats by Castor Troy seriously and report them to someone.

Finally, Jamie says that Archer doesn’t smoke, when she sees Castor doing so while wearing Archer’s face. Yet, in the next scene, there is Archer with Castor’s face, smoking away like he has a two-pack a day habit.

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Chapter 10: 59:11 – 1:04:26

Castor brings Pollux back to the FBI HQ in Los Angeles.  The FBI is giving Pollux all the food he wants.  The other teammates of Archer say they are upset about Tito.  Archer’s boss, Director Lazarro, comes in and tells Castor-as-Archer that he, Lazarro, is taking over the case.

Castor tells Pollux he needs to confess to the location of the bomb so that Castor can become a hero as Archer.  Pollux confesses and the FBI arrives at the scene with only minutes to spare.  The bomb team says they can’t defuse the bomb in time and Castor tells them to leave.  Castor then disarms the bomb with one second left.

Castor-as-Archer, becomes a hero and Archer-as-Castor, has to watch him gloat on TV.  While Archer is stuck in Erehwon prison, Castor is lauded by the FBI.  They remark on how he’s much less stiff now and the President calls him, as well as Eve.  Castor grabs his secretary’s butt, after telling her to put the President on hold.

Analysis

For some reason, no one is curious about why Archer went to the Georgia swamps on one day’s notice and then just shows up one day later.  Not Loomis, who was in the Walsh Institute getting a new ear while Archer was there.  Not even Archer’s boss, who would be the one who would approve his leave of absence or his momentary training in the middle of a bomb threat.  Nope, they just say, hey we’re sorry about Tito.  Oh, they also don’t seem too worried about investigating Tito’s extremely suspicious immolation at the Walsh Institute.

Castor is able to be enough like Archer that no one suspects, other than to mention that he seems less stiff.  This is utterly absurd.  Think how long you could fool people that you don’t know into believing you’re someone else even if you look just like the other person.  They are going to pick up on your whole new speech pattern and use of phrases.  The FBI should notice Castor’s astounding lack of knowledge about FBI procedure – or people’s names.  He’s going to walk differently, type at a different speed, start smoking, etc..  There is a litany of things that people would pick up on.  However, the Los Angeles Field Office of the FBI is apparently staffed with dimbulbs who think “looks like a duck, talks like a duck, doesn’t walk like a duck, doesn’t act like a duck, and seems not to know anything about being a duck – must be a duck.”

Castor gets Pollux to “confess”, but what is his plan for Pollux after that?  Pollux is still going to prison – a legal prison this time.  He has been arrested for all sorts of crimes, and showing cooperation with the FBI won’t exonerate him of them all.  The FBI can’t hide Pollux in Erehwon again.  His name will be on the report (assuming Castor can write a proper report) as a witness and everyone in the office saw him eating a sandwich.  Is the entire LA Field Office in on this illegal prison?  I mean that prison can’t be legal right?  If it were, then Pollux’s sentencing would be in the hands of judges, not the FBI. Also, if the prison weren’t a total secret, Archer-as-Castor could speak with an attorney instead of looking at the TV and crying.

Finally, Castor sexually harasses a secretary in front of the entire office.  I know he is a hero and everything, but there’s no way they would let him get away with that.  It would have been a great scene for Castor to have to interact with an ombudsman.  Actually, this could have been a very funny part of this movie – watching Castor-as-Archer deal with bureaucracy and be fired for insubordination.

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Chapter 11: 1:04:27 – 1:08:10

Eve comes home and finds a lobster dinner waiting for her.  Castor kisses her and she congratulates him.  Castor says the President agreed to let him be in charge of all global counterterrorism.  Eve is uncertain about how he has changed.  Castor says he wants to be home more often and then they make love.

Archer, in prison, is given an hour to exercise.  The exercise consists in the prisoners walking in a large oval.  He asks how to get out and a fellow prisoner says he can’t.  He asks how to get the boots off and the inmate says that only happens in the infirmary before they fry your brain.  Archer sees a guard smoking and demands a cigarette.  When he is rebuffed, he attacks the guard and pockets the cigarette that falls from the guard’s mouth.  The guards beat Archer and he asks the other prisoners for a light as they drag him away.

Analysis

The scene in the prison is standard action movie plot building.  Rather than take any of the easy and obvious steps I’ve outlined above, Archer feels he needs to escape.  Wisely, he asks advice on how to escape from the prisoner who has been in prison for a while and has thus shown no ability to escape.

The scene with Castor and Eve is another one of the famously stupid scenes in the movie.  Okay, so she’s surprised by the sudden show of affection with the dinner and candles.  But, if the real Archer had done that and made promises about being a better husband, would she suddenly swoon?  I mean, he did that earlier in the movie and that didn’t convince her much.  Then she has sex with him and doesn’t seem to notice that suddenly her husband has a different penis.  Not only that but he probably kisses differently, he has a different style, he doesn’t seem to know what she likes or dislikes, and he has a different penis.  He would also have different moles, more or less muscular arms, chest, legs etc. and a different penis.  Sure. their love life had been failing but this is mind-numbingly stupid.  Also, what about that scar where the real Sean Archer was shot?  I guess Eve was so happy about this new penis she forgot about the day her son was murdered.

The President promotes the man he thinks is Archer to be in charge of all global terror investigations.  So, that would put him in Washington, DC right?  Is Eve supposed to be happy that she either has to leave her hospital and drag Jamie out of school or just deal with her husband being out of the state all of the time?  And why would the President give the man he thinks is Archer such a promotion?  All he did was stop one bombing, and that was based on a tip from the bomber.  Anyone could have done that.  He’s not going to warrant a Cabinet-level position!

 

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Chapter 12 1:08:11 – 1:14:06

Archer is dragged to the infirmary where another prisoner, Duboff, is strapped to a chair being electrocuted.  The infirmary workers remove Duboff and place Archer in the chair.  Before he is strapped in, Archer asks for a light for his cigarette.  Guard Walton lights it, and Archer tells Duboff he didn’t sleep with his wife or sister (the reason Duboff was angry with Castor) and that they should leave.  Archer uses the lit cigarette to burn the worker trying to strap him in as Duboff stands up and hits Walton in the back.  Duboff and Archer beat up the guards who rush into the infirmary.

Archer takes one of the guard’s guns and is shoots another guard and to throws a bottle of acid and shoots that, burning other guards.  Duboff uses a gurney to push through the door and knock over more guards.  Duboff shoots his way into the control room and Archer joins him.  Archer overloads the prison electrical system but Duboff is shot by guard Walton.  Archer tries to save Duboff, but Duboff falls and dies.

Archer climbs up stairs while the prisoners riot.  He pushes through a door and makes it to the outside.  He sees he is on an abandoned oil refinery in the middle of the sea.  As Archer yells in frustration, a helicopter rises and guards in it start shooting at him.  Archer avoids the bullets but his shoes catch fire and he has to doff them.  Archer runs and jumps off the edge of the platform into the water.

Analysis

This prison makes less and less sense.  They have an “infirmary” and all it has is some quasi-electric chair where they either torture or conduct some sort of rude shock therapy.  There are people in scrubs but they don’t seem to be medical personnel.   The “doctor” (look, it’s Joe Bob Briggs!) is so excited to shock Castor Troy he takes Duboff out of the chair and leaves him lying on the floor.  For some reason, Walton lights Archer’s cigarette, even though they are going to put a gag in his mouth, and then they strap that hand with the lit cigarette to the chair so he can’t reach his mouth to smoke it.

This all comes back to hurt them as Duboff makes a sudden and miraculous recovery and turns into a fighting dervish as soon as Archer burns the doctor.  As expected, the guards can’t fight or shoot, repeatedly missing and getting their asses kicked.  Archer must be ambidextrous because he keeps shooting with only one hand but he also keeps changing the hand he uses.  Still, he is able to throw a bottle of acid (why is there a bottle of acid in the infirmary?) into the air and burn two guards who are unable to either shoot Archer or to dodge.  Now, this looks great on film, but it would have been quicker and easier for Archer to just shoot the two guards.  They are much easier targets. Or he could have just thrown the acid at them to make them dodge.  Nope, he decides to burn them with acid so that when they survive their wounds, they are disfigured.

I wonder who designed the electrical system at Erehwon prison.  Why is there even an option to overload the system?  And how does Archer know how to do it?  He runs to the top of the prison, and it’s an oil refinery?  As they show it from the air you can clearly see there is nowhere for the prison to exist, unless it’s entirely beneath the water.  If they had to build the entire prison under water from scratch, why bother using the refinery?  Why is the helicopter conducting strafing runs at Archer when its main advantage in flying is the ability to hover?  Why can’t it hit Archer while he is running in a straight line away from it?  Why was the helicopter in the air in the first place?  Is that standard operation procedure for anytime someone goes to the infirmary, or when the electrical system is overloaded?  “Hey Joe, they’re going to shock the shit out of someone’s head again.  Better get the whirlybird in the air.”

 


Prison Escape


Where in that hollow structure is the prison?

— MOVIECLIPS.com

Archer jumps into the water, and I guess we’re to assume he escapes.  I mean, it’s not like the prison has a helicopter to use to search for him or anything.  Here’s a different question, though.  How does no one know about this prison?  It’s within view of the mainland.  You’d think someone would eventually wonder why there are helicopters flying back and forth from this abandoned oil platform.  Or how about that boat in the water that you can see while Archer is jumping?  Maybe they might report a helicopter with a rotary machine gun shooting at someone.  Maybe that boat also works for the prison?  Sheer idiocy.

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Chapter 13: 1:14:07 – 1:19:03

The next morning, Castor-as-Archer is leaving and Eve comes outside and asks him where he’s going.  She mentions that she knows the day is a tough day for him, but they have to do it.  Castor-as-Archer, of course, has no idea what she means but goes along with her.  Eve takes him to the cemetery where her son is buried. Castor=as-Archer goes back to the FBI office where he is told that Castor-as-Archer was killed escaping prison.  Castor-as-Archer wants to see the body and when he is told it hasn’t been recovered he says that Archer-as-Castor is already in Los Angeles.

Archer-as-Castor, back in LA, goes to a restaurant and steals a car.  He uses a car phone to call Eve at her hospital.  Archer-as-Castor tells Eve that the man she thinks is her husband isn’t her husband, and to take Jamie and go to her mother’s without telling him.  Eve hangs up on Archer. He then calls to talk to Lazarro but Castor-as-Archer answers.  Archer-as-Castor tells him, “Well, if you’re Sean Archer, I guess I’m Castor Troy.”  Archer-as-Castor hears reports on the radio about Castor Troy having escaped.  Archer-as-Castor drives to the house of Castor’s associate Deitrich.  Deitrich thinks he is Castor and is happy to see him.

Analysis

The scene with Castor and Eve is fine.  The scene where Castor finds out about Archer’s escape is also fine, even though it’s odd that the prison would report a prisoner is dead when they can’t find the body even with a helicopter and a boat in the area.  Archer stealing a car and calling Eve?  It all falls apart.

How does he get to this restaurant with such poor security for their valet parking?  Did he swim underwater the entire way to some beach, and then crawl out of the water in a prison jumpsuit unseen?  Did he then walk around Los Angeles, unseen, in said jumpsuit until he found this place?  He makes it to a car and a phone and the first thing he does is drive to Eve’s hospital and call her?

Why doesn’t he just drive to Lazarro?  Or why doesn’t he drive to another state or FBI Field Office and tell them the truth?  He can prove his identity in no time with fingerprints, which the brilliant Dr. Walsh forgot.  He will also have the proper blood type.  Seriously, one day and he’s back as the FBI hot shot and Castor Troy is in jail.  Instead, he calls his wife and makes no effort to convince her that he is her husband.  Rather than tell her something no one else could know or try to smack himself in the neck to change his voice, he says the most generic thing the writers could think up.  Also, that microchip, which is supposed to be fragile, made it through a lot of violence so far.

Instead of taking the obvious steps, Archer takes the preposterous step of driving to Deitrich’s house.  Deitrich, we find out, sold Pollux the bombs, and yet Castor-as-Archer didn’t see fit to arrest him once the bombs were disarmed to further enhance his image.  It also appears that Pollux bought the bombs from Deitrich, but that leaves us to wonder who paid Castor to blow up the LA Coliseum in the first place.  Remember, Castor bragged about terrorism for hire.

Finally, there are reports of Castor’s escape from prison on the radio.  Um, from what prison are they saying he escaped?

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Chapter 14: 1:19:04 – 1:24:15

Deitrich takes Archer-as-Castor into his house where a party is underway.  All the guests are happy to see Archer-as-Castor.  Deitrich gives Archer-as-Castor a case with Castor’s guns and some other items in it.  Deitrich asks Archer-as-Castor what he wants to do: leave the country, etc.?  Archer-asCastor tells Deitrich he wants to get “Sean Archer” with Deitrich’s help.  Deitrich spikes Archer-as-Castor’s drink and the other guests ask how they are supposed to get “Archer”.  Archer-as-Castor tells them the code for his home alarm system and says he wants to cut Archer’s face off.  Archer-as-Castor goes into the bathroom while high, and talks to himself in the mirror.  Sasha. Dietrich’s sister, sees him and punches him.

Analysis

This is a simple scene with nothing much aside from Nicholas Cage making some strange faces.  Luckily, Deitrich’s goons don’t know much about Castor and thus aren’t concerned why he broke out of prison (again which prison?  The secret one that everyone seems to know about?) without his brother, and they are not concerned with why Pollux told the FBI where the bomb was.  Somehow, they are in possession of Castor’s briefcase which contains drugs and his guns.  This is the same briefcase that Castor had on the plane at the beginning of the movie.  Since the FBI clearly had no plans to go to trial with charges against Castor, I can see why they didn’t keep that pesky evidence: the actual gun that was used to shoot their agents, or the illicit drugs inside the case.  Instead, they gave the case to the first neo-Nazi they saw.  That would be the neo-Nazi they brought in for questioning.  I guess the FBI gives parting gifts to all the people they question.

Also, Deitrich has a really nice home for a skinhead.

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Chapter 15: 1:24:16- 1:31:28

Castor-as-Archer is on the phone talking to Pollux, telling him that they can use the resources of the FBI to eliminate all of their rivals and then he can get his face back.  As Castor-as-Archer is talking, Jamie arrives home from a date.  Her date, Carl, doesn’t let her out of the car and tries to force himself on her.  Castor-as-Archer sees this and goes outside, kicks in the window of the car, drags Carl out of the car and beats him.  He makes Carl say he is sorry, then takes Jamie inside.

Castor-as-Archer chides Jamie for how she dresses and she says it’s typical.  Castor-as-Archer offers her a cigarette.  He asks her if she has protection and gives her a knife. He then tells her next time to let Carl pull his pants down and to slip the knife in his thigh and twist it so the wound won’t close.

Archer-as-Castor wakes in Deitrich’s house with Sasha.  He is surprised and almost shoots her.  She tells him to leave, then starts kissing him.  Meanwhile, Pollux is watching them through a telescopic lens.  He calls Castor-as-Archer and notifies him of Archer-as-Castor’s location.  Archer pushes Sasha off and says he won’t leave until her brother helps him.  He apologizes for how Castor treated her before.  Sasha reveals that her son is Castor’s.  Sasha introduces Archer-as-Castor to her son, Adam, and says that Castor is his father.  Archer-as-Castor strokes his face, hugs him and calls him “Michael”.  Archer-as-Castor sees an FBI agent firing a gas canister into the window and jumps to protect Sasha and Adam.

Analysis

Another light chapter.  We can assume that the movie will end quickly now because Castor, while looking like Archer, severely beat a juvenile and broke his car’s window.  While Carl probably doesn’t want to attack the man he thinks is Archer, he probably will call the police or at least his insurance company about the broken window. If Carl doesn’t, I suspect his parents might. That’s going to get the police involved and could easily lead to an arrest, which would lead to fingerprinting, and as we’ve already mentioned, Doctor Walsh missed that part.

 


I Am the King


Dad, you want me to go out with Carl again?

— MOVIECLIPS.com

Jamie, for her part, is nonplussed when the man she thinks is her father tells her not only to go out again with the boy who just tried to rape her, but to try and murder him when he tries to rape her a second time.

Finally, how does Pollux get to walk around free? Sure, Castor-as-Archer talked him into giving up the location of the bomb, but that guy has plenty of other crimes for which he has to do jail time – and not just in the US.

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Chapter 16 1:31:29 – 1:37:04

The FBI opens fire on Deitrich’s house and Archer-as-Castor tells Adam to put on headphones and listen to his music.  Deitrich and his gang arm themselves and return fire.  A shootout occurs, and the FBI agents are shot repeatedly.  Deitrich, Sasha, and Archer-as-Castor keep Adam safe while shooting the FBI\s men.  Finally, Castor-as-Archer shows up, and tries to shoot Adam but Deitrich steps in front of the bullet.  Deitrich tells Sasha to escape with Adam and then dies in front of Archer.

Analysis

Let’s assume that the conversation between Sasha and Archer took a long time off screen and that the FBI didn’t mobilize their SWAT team and have them in place in less than the minute we see Sasha and Archer together.  Instead, I’d like to focus on the FBI’s tactics.  Did they get some sort of warrant to invade Deitrich’s home?  Even skinheads are protected by the Fourth Amendment.  If they did get a warrant, did it spell out that the police could just shoot into the house without announcing themselves?  And why would the FBI shoot gas into the house, and then immediately open fire with live rounds?  Were they trying to subdue or just murder everyone in the joint?  Just because Castor-as-Archer is now nominally in charge of this part of the organization doesn’t mean that everyone in the FBI is suddenly a bloodthirsty killer. They didn’t even give the people in the house a chance to surrender.  They just opened fire through the windows!

Of course, the FBI SWAT team is also comprised of terrible shots.  As we all know, one of the least important things about being on a SWAT team is your accuracy with the weapons you use.  In addition to their poor marksmanship, they have no coordination.  People come rappelling into the house one at a time, allowing themselves to be shot repeatedly, and in sequence.  Why don’t they all barge in at once so they can cover everything at the same time?  The FBI loses something like 15 people in this raid.  It’s a total catastrophe.  This is all going to come down on the person who was in charge.  I guess Castor-as-Archer is going to be brought up before some sort of review board after this.

And again, I know it’s John Woo’s thing, but the jumping and shooting?  That is the worst thing you could do in a firefight.  You can’t hit anything and once you land you are prone, making yourself much easier to hit or preventing you from seeing what your opponent is doing.  It’s just stupid.  Stop it, John Woo, just stop it.

Finally, how is Deitrich able to talk after having suffered a fatal neck wound?

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Chapter 17 1:37:05 – 1:40:40

Archer-as-Castor sees Castor-as-Archer and fires at him with a semi-automatic machine gun.  Castor-as-Archer is able to avoid the bullets and the two men end up being back to back with a mirror in between them.  They have a brief discussion where Castor-as-Archer says they should switch back their faces but Archer-as-Castor says no.  Castor-as-Archer then recommends they kill each other.  The two men turn and each faces the mirror, seeing his own reflection, and in that reflection, the man he really wants to kill.  They shoot at each other but miss each other and then have a longer shoot out.

Their fight is interrupted by an FBI agent who opens fire with a grenade launcher.  Archer-as-Castor is able to escape to the roof, where Pollux is waiting.  Archer-as-Castor swings from a wire and knocks Pollux off the adjacent building and through the sky light in Deitrich’s house.  Pollux falls and lands in front of Castor-as-Archer.  Castor-as-Archer looks up through the sky light, sees Archer-as-Castor and shoots at him but misses.  Castor sees Pollux dead on the floor and when the agent with the grenade launcher asks why he’s so upset, Castor shoots him in the head.

Analysis

I know the scene where Archer and Castor are looking at the mirror is an iconic scene, and it’s one of the only good ideas in this movie.  However, they still managed to botch it.  First, why would anyone make a mirror that is a flat reflection on both sides, and then put a door frame around it?  Second, why don’t Castor and/or Archer back away from the mirror and try to look around it?  I mean it’s just standing there.  Anyone with any tactical training knows you don’t just shoot through an opaque surface when you can look around it and get a clear shot.  It’s not cover, unless it’s some sort of revolutionary ballistic mirror that reflects your image and bullets.  I don’t know if it’s John Woo’s directing or Nick Cage’s terrible acting but why does Castor keep doing somersaults before shooting?  It’s the slowest and probably most painful way to get lower to the ground.  He doesn’t even go anywhere laterally.

 


Let’s Just Kill Each Other


Does the FBI even own grenade launchers?

— MOVIECLIPS.com

The FBI took a grenade launcher on a raid of someone’s house? Why does the FBI, a law enforcement agency that focuses on civilian crimes, even have a grenade launcher, much less grenades?  What kind of resistance were they expecting? Does Deitrich have reinforced bunkers in his home?  Where does Archer run when he is being shot at by the grenade launcher?  He is in Deitrich’s house, he runs up the stairs in Deitrich’s house and he ends up across the street from Deitrich’s house.  Luckily for him there is a cable hanging from high above that allows him to swing from across the street, back to Deitrich’s house, and then kick Pollux through the roof like he’s Errol Flynn.

The FBI agent with the grenade launcher is stunned that Castor-as-Archer is upset.  Somehow, he immediately knows his boss is upset over the death of Pollux Troy and not the deaths of the 15 agents.  Of course Castor-as-Archer kills him, knowing that after a bloodbath in a person’s home in Los Angeles, neither the LAPD nor the FBI will do any sort of follow up.  They won’t test all the ballistics, figure out who shot whom, realize that their guy Castor-as-Archer shot both Deitrich AND a fellow agent.  I’m guessing the next scene will be Castor-as-Archer talking to some FBI version of Internal Affairs, his attorney, or maybe a Congressional panel.

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Chapter 18 1:40:41 – 1:45:40

Back at the FBI office, Castor-as-Archer is traumatized by the death of his brother.  His secretary shows him that he is on the cover of Time magazine because of his raids on the assassins and terrorists in the US.  Lazarro enters and tells Castor-as-Archer that he is suspending the war on terrorists because of the bloodbath at Deitrich’s and that he is worried about the constitutionality of the tactics.  Lazarro is grabbing at his chest.  Castor-as-Archer agrees, tells Lazarro he is Castor Troy, then knocks him down and elbows him in the chest, sending him into cardiac arrest.  Castor-as-Archer muffles Lazarro and lets him die.  Castor-as-Archer then tells his secretary to call the paramedics because Lazarro had a heart attack.

Archer-as-Castor goes back to his house, sneaking in past the police.  Eve comes out of the shower and sees him.  Archer-as-Castor tries to hide his face behind his hand.  He calms Eve down and tells her the truth.  He takes a picture of their son and tells her that Castor’s blood type is AB while his own blood type is O-.

Analysis

Well, finally someone realizes Castor-as-Archer is out of control as the head of counter-terrorism.  Apparently, Castor-as-Archer has been raiding other terrorist organizations and assassins in the US, and he’s done it all in a week.  This is amazing because he hasn’t even been wearing Archer’s face for a week.  It brings up two other questions.  The first is, how does he know where all these assassins and terrorists live?  Did Castor run some sort of list serve for terrorists and assassins?  Wouldn’t they all move around once they heard that Castor Troy had been captured or killed? What about after the first few raids?  Second, how does Castor-as-Archer get authorization for all these raids?  You would need a warrant, and that comes from a judge who requires probable cause before issuing a warrant.  If Lazarro, who would see the warrants, doesn’t know the source of Castor-as-Archer\s information, then Castor-as-Archer must not be reporting a source, which would lead to the judge declining his warrant.  If they went ahead without warrants, then none of their arrests (assuming they arrested people) would stand up in court.  Maybe they are just sending everyone to Erehwon prison without due process.  But then Castor-as-Archer wouldn’t be on the cover of Time magazine because they couldn’t report any of the raids.

At least Lazarro seems to realize that Castor-as-Archer is breaking laws and the Constitution.  Apparently, though, people in Washington are also.  So, killing Lazarro isn’t going to grant Castor-as-Archer impunity.  This is the FBI, not the Wild West Sheriff’s Department.  There is going to be a paper trail, and Congress is not going to be satisfied by Lazarro dying in Archer’s office under mysterious circumstances.  By the way, how is Castor going to explain the wounds to the back of the neck and the bruising to the chest on Lazarro?  For that matter, how does he explain not trying CPR on the man?  One last thing on that – since when can you put someone into cardiac arrest by hitting them in the sternum?  Did Castor somehow build up an electrical charge and pass it through his body to disrupt Lazarro’s heart rhythm?

I don’t know why Eve agreed to have a uniformed police officer (what jurisdiction is that guy from anyway?) just walking around her house.  If she were at risk, you’d think she’d take Jamie and head to her mother’s.  Archer tells her to check the blood.  That’s a step.  How about she talk to someone and have the FINGERPRINTS CHECKED?!

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Chapter 19 1:45:41 – 1:52:21

Castor-as-Archer returns to Archer’s house and tells Eve that he read her diary.  He says he wants to be the man she deserves and that Lazarro died.  Later that night, while Castor-as-Archer sleeps, Eve takes a blood sample.  She takes it to the hospital and runs the blood test.  Archer-as-Castor is there at the hospital and he talks to Eve.  She is uncertain about him but he reminisces about their first date together.  Eve finally accepts the truth and Archer-as-Castor apologizes to her.

Archer-as-Castor feels that Castor-as-Archer will run the FBI now that Lazarro is dead, and he’ll be untouchable.  Eve tells Archer-as-Castor that Castor-as-Archer will be at Lazarro’s funeral service the next day. Archer-as-Castor tells her to take Jamie away but she says she can cover for Jamie but has to attend the funeral or Castor-as-Archer will be suspicious.  Castor-as-Archer goes to the hospital with his two criminal henchmen and tries to catch Eve with Archer-as-Castor, but they hear him coming and when Castor-as-Archer and his goons arrive, Eve is with another patient.  Castor-as-Archer tells his henchmen that he thinks Eve is lying.

Analysis

Eve must have some seriously sharp needles, or Castor is a really heavy sleeper.  She jabs him in the back with a needle and he doesn’t even shift.  The hospital security is pretty weak as Archer-as-Castor walks in and waits around by the blood test terminal.  Once they have the proof, what do they do?  Do they call the FBI, Department of Justice, LAPD, or one of Archer’s teammates, friends, anything?  Nope, they just plan to assassinate him at a funeral attended by a large number of law enforcement officials.

It’s a cute story about their first date but where did they find a drunk all-night dentist in the 80’s?

 


This is Turning into a Real Marriage


Yes, these goons are with me.

— MOVIECLIPS.com

Archer thinks Castor will now be untouchable as head of the FBI.  He clearly has ruled out the obvious ploy of blowing Castor’s cover by revealing himself.  Archer decided he has to kill Castor at a funeral rather than having his wife poison the guy or kill him in his sleep.  I don’t even know why he thinks he’s untouchable.  Just because Castor-as-Archer killed his boss doesn’t mean he is now going to avoid all the scrutiny for his raids and the mysterious deaths of everyone around him.  Hell, Castor isn’t even trying to hide anymore.  He just barges into a hospital with two known criminals, as if Eve wouldn’t have asked who these two gentlemen with guns were (which, in his defense, she did not).

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Chapter 20 1:52:22 – 1:59:14

Archer-as-Castor talks to Sasha, who wants to come with him.  Castor-as-Archer talks to Eve, who says Jamie stole money and ran off.  During the funeral, Eve and Castor-as-Archer exchange suspicious looks.  Archer-as-Castor walks into the church at some point and has an altar boy give Castor-as-Archer a picture of Michael Archer.  Archer-as-Castor re-enters the church after the service and waits.  Castor-as-Archer walks in behind him and mocks him.  Archer-as-Castor turns to shoot but misses.  They point their guns at each other and Castor has his henchman bring in Eve and tells Archer Jamie is on the way.  They talk about the deaths of Michael and Pollux and then Sasha shows up.  They create a diamond around Eve until Castor’s other henchman arrives.

Everyone makes eye contact and then Eve ducks to the ground while Archer shoots both of Castor’s henchmen.

Analysis

How does Archer find Sasha?  Did she give him a phone number off screen or something? Why is she still in Los Angeles after the FBI tried to assassinate her and all her friends? Why are there so many doves wandering around at this funeral, presumably shitting peace on everything?  How does Archer, looking like Castor, manage to get into a church full of FBI agents, slip a photo to an altar boy, and not be seen?  How does Castor find Jamie?  How does Sasha hang around the church unnoticed by everyone? She walks right into the church, in heels, without a sound.  Why didn’t Castor just shoot Archer in the back before taunting him?  If Castor really did mean to shoot Archer and not his son, why didn’t he shoot him again (see Chapter 1)?

 


What a Predicament


What a preposterous predicament!

— MOVIECLIPS.com

The scene where there are four people around Eve is tremendously stupid.  It’s a movie trope, the Mexican Standoff, but as I said earlier, whoever pulls the trigger first wins.  I don’t know why Sasha brought two guns with her, and why she gave Archer a second one rather than keep it for herself.  I guess John Woo doesn’t let girls fire two guns simultaneously.  The “Drop your guns/No YOU drop YOUR guns.” bit is so obvious and trite it’s almost the funniest thing in this scene.  It can only be topped by the hysterical eyes-only shot and the final series of close up, slow motion scenes with bullets being shot out of various weapons.  It’s like some sort of gun porn compilation video.

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Chapter 21  1:59:15 – 2: 02:46

In the aftermath of the shooting, both Castor-as-Archer’s goons are dead and Sasha is dying.  Sasha tells Archer-as-Castor to take care of her boy.  Castor-as-Archer sees his henchman’s gun on the ground and goes for it but Archer-as-Castor sees him and shoots at him.  Castor-as-Archer is able to avoid the shots and grab the Uzi from the floor.  He runs upstairs and Archer-as-Castor pursues.  On the top floor, Jamie is looking for Eve.  She hides when Castor and Archer start shooting at each other then comes face to face with Archer-as-Castor, who still looks like Castor.

Archer-as-Castor pushes Jaime away and opens fire on Castor-as-Archer.  Castor-as-Archer jumps over the side the railing as Archer-as-Castor takes Jamie down the stairs.  Jamie tries to get back into the church, but Castor-as-Archer shoots the door.  Eve calls Wanda at the FBI and tells Wanda about Castor and Archer.  Castor-as-Archer is distracted by birds and Archer-as-Archer closes distance with him and they engage in a fist-fight.  Archer-as-Castor gets the best of Castor-as-Archer and is telling him to die when Jamie picks up a discarded gun and points it at them both.  Archer-as-Castor has his own voice back after Castor-as-Archer choked him and talks to Jamie but she shoots him in the arm anyway. Castor-as-Archer goes to Jamie and holds her at gunpoint.  Jamie realizes which is really her father and she takes the knife that Castor-as-Archer gave her out of her pocket and stabs him in the leg, as he told her to do.  Castor-as-Archer runs off as Archer-as-Castor shoots at him.

Analysis

This little segment is packed with action.  I don’t know why Castor-as-Archer is just sitting behind a pew while Eve and Archer-as-Castor look at each other and while Sasha dies.  Maybe he just wanted to hear what Sasha had to say?  As is expected, Archer and Castor suddenly can’t shoot.  It doesn’t help Archer-as-Castor’s accuracy when he performs a side somersault in-between shots.   Where did he learn to shoot?  Castor-as-Archer is running, not shooting back, so there is no need to take even the most moderate of defensive actions.  Just keep shooting at him! Even if Archer-as-Castor felt endangered, why not run for cover or hide behind something? But a fucking flip?  He does a flip and stays in the exact same spot?  Why couldn’t John Woo just let Nick Cage do his flip and then cut it out of the film?

What is Jamie doing upstairs in the church?  Did the goon take her to the church, climb the stairs, then leave her wandering around (with a knife, mind you – good search, buddy) while he joined the stupid Mexican Standoff downstairs?  Once Archer sees Jamie, what is the first thing he does?  He throws her out from behind cover into the line of fire!  She’s safe behind a stone column and he throws her out first, so that Castor-as-Archer can shoot at her.  No wonder she doesn’t believe him later on.  Then he drags her downstairs to go after Castor-as-Archer.  What good will that do, other than to further endanger her?

Eve finally calls the FBI.  Why didn’t Archer think to do this earlier?  Is Eve somehow the ultimate authority on who is her husband?  I mean, you’d think so, but she did fuck the imposter without knowing the difference.  Why is Wanda going to believe her now?  Also, why wait until her husband and daughter are being shot at by a mad man? If all it took was a phone call, then just make the call before the funeral.  Eve’s credibility hasn’t increased just because Sasha and Castor’s goons are dead.  They were all there at Lazarro’s funeral. Just say something then and avoid the gunfight.  Damn, lady, you took a Hippocratic Oath.  I’m sure “Do no harm” is in there somewhere.

Also, Castor and Archer have fired approximately 100 rounds in and around that church.  There are bullets flying and the loud, sonic boom reports of each shot are echoing around this place and yet the birds are just calmly sitting outside the church, waiting to fly in the face of Castor-as-Archer and conventional avian behavior.  Not only that, but they are able to incapacitate Castor.

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Chapter 22 2:02:47 – 2: 08:10

Castor-as-Archer hobbles away from the church as FBI agents pull up.  He shoots two agents who are exiting a car and takes their weapons.  He then proceeds to a nearby dock, shoots a man who is unmooring his speedboat, and then steals it.  Castor and Archer open fire on each other again, with Castor-as-Archer hitting some tanks that contain flammable material.  The tanks explode.  Archer-as-Castor steals another boat and gives chase.

Archer-as-Castor chases Castor-as-Archer across the water.  They shoot at each other, hitting one another’s boats.  An LAPD boat tries to stop them but Castor-as-Archer shoots the police and forces Archer-as-Castor’s boat to crash into and through the police boat.  Archer’as-Castors boat is on fire so he jumps from his boat onto Castor-as-Archer’s before his boat rams into a large barge and explodes.  Archer-s-Castor overpowers Castor-as-Archer but has to let him up to steer the boat around bridge supports.  Castor-as-Archer takes this opportunity to attack Archer-as-Castor with an anchor.

Archer-as-Castor is knocked off the boat, but manages to hang on to a chain and then to climb back on the boat.  Castor and Archer fight again until the boat runs aground, throwing them both forward onto a slanted dock while flipping up in the air and crashing.

Analysis

I guess Jamie didn’t stab Castor-as-Archer properly.  He seems to be hobbling along fine with a wound in his thigh that won’t close.  Castor-as-Archer recovers his shooting ability, sort of, in this part.  He manages to shoot both agents stepping out of the car while only pointing his weapon at one.  That is some serious shooting, folks.  I don’t know how far the dock where the boats are is from the church, but it is some nebulous distance.  Clearly it’s close enough that a hobbled Castor-as-Archer can make it to a boat before a fully functional Archer-as-Castor can catch up.  If you look closely, you can see that somehow Archer-as-Castor is even farther behind at this point.  Yet the dock is also far enough away for no one on it to have heard the 100 or so shots that were fired a mere hobbling distance from it.  They’re just preparing for a nice day out on the ocean in their speedboats.  Archer-as-Castor does a great job of shooting at a moving target with a bunch of civilians in-between him and his target.  I particularly like how he opens fire, and then tells them to “get down!”  I guess he figured that if a stray bullet didn’t put them down they should duck on their own.

Why is there a trio of tanks containing the most combustible and explosive gas ever seen?  Castor hits them with a bullet and suddenly it’s Vietnam being napalmed.  What was the initiator for that explosion?  Sure, a bullet let the gas out, but why did it explode?  There was no fire there.  Good thing there were two speed boats gassed up and available.  It would have been smarter for Archeras-Castor to unmoor his boat before taking off – but hey, movie miracle, the rope disappeared before he gave chase.

 


Speedboat Chase


Why do all these boats explode?

— MOVIECLIPS.com

Archer and Castor throw bullets at each other, only able to hit one another’s boats.  Then Castor-as-Archer recovers his miraculous shooting ability by simultaneously hitting five police officers on the police boat.  Look at it; they all get hit at once.  How did he do that?  They have their highly accurate M16’s shouldered, in a good shooting position on a relatively stable platform, and they miss repeatedly while Castor-as-Archer shoots a fully automatic submachine gun one-handed while driving at high speeds over waves – and he nails all five of them at exactly the same time!  Then Archer’-as-Castor’s boat blasts through the police boat and I guess the LAPD use the same sort of explosive fuel as the previous dock because that police boat explodes like it was hit with a S.C.U.D missile.  The explosion doesn’t come from just one place, mind you.  No, the entire vessel explodes from all points, as if the ship were constructed from nitro glycerin.

Castor-as-Archer, being the capricious terrorist he is, sees that Archer’as-Castors boat is on fire and decides to rub his boat against it.  The only way Archer-as-Castor can catch him is if he can jump onto Archer-as-Castor’s boat and Castor-as-Archer makes it as easy as possible.  That is some great stunt work, however.

Physics takes a back seat when the boat crashes.  They are in a speedboat travelling maybe 25 knots (around 30mph), as a guess.  Therefore, Castor and Archer would continue to travel at 25 knots until they hit something that stopped them.  This thing, whether it be an object or friction, would stop them with the same force it took to propel them in the first place.  Castor and Archer would also continue moving in the same vector in which they were previously travelling.  We see them flying through the air, then in a wide shot and we see them drop almost straight down, into shallow water with no injuries.

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Chapter 23 2:08:11 – End

Castor and Archer get up after the crash and begin fighting…again.  Castor-as-Archer beats Archer-as-Castor until Archer-as-Castor grabs a harpoon.  Archer-as-Castor stabs Castor-as-Archer in his good leg and points the harpoon at him.  Archer-as-Castor tries to shoot Castor-as-Archer, but Castor-as-Archer grabs the harpoon before it can be released.  Castor-as-Archer cuts his (or really Archer’s) face telling him “Every time you look in the mirror, you’ll see my face.”  Archer-as-Castor kicks Castor-as-Archer, wrests control of the harpoon and shoots Castor-as-Archer in the abdomen, then screams “DIE!” as Castor dies.

The FBI shows up and Buzz calls Archer “Archer”.  Eve and Jamie show up as Archer is put in an ambulance.  She tells Archer that the FBI is bringing in their top surgical team from DC and that he’ll be ok.  They put Archer in the ambulance next to Castor and Archer takes his wedding ring from Castor’s body.  Archer goes to surgery and he tells the surgeon he will no longer need the scar on his chest.

Back in her house Eve sees Archer walking in front of the windows.  She rushes to the door and Archer is there.  They hug and Jamie runs up to join them in an embrace.  Jamie apologizes to her dad for shooting him.  Archer reveals that he has brought along Adam, Sasha’s kid.  Jamie shows him to his “new room” and Eve nods her head and says “Okay”.

Analysis

Another fist-fight, hooray.  I don’t know why Archer fights so hard to get ahold of a distance weapon, then moves into melee range so Castor can grab it.  Castor must have a concussion as he doesn’t just knock the weapon aside, letting it fire harmlessly into the wall.  Instead he keeps it pointed at his abdomen.  Then he chooses the stupid tactic of cutting his (or Archer’s) face along the outside.  Make a scar on the front of the face, dumbass.

The FBI shows up because they knew where the boats were heading, I guess.  They must have deduced which of the three explosions that took place on the water in the last five minutes was the one where their boss was.  If so, the FBI have already acquired enough information to know who is Archer and who is Castor.  I guess for the FBI, Eve’s word is enough.  I wonder if they just have Eve call judges to provide probable cause for warrants.  The FBI brings Eve and Jamie to a crime scene, but then she can’t ride in the ambulance with her husband? Eve is his wife and a doctor!  Actually, no one rides in the ambulance with him except the corpse of his rival.  Where are the EMT’s?  This guy has been through several fights, a boat crash, and three explosions.  He might need medical attention.

The scene at the house is preposterous.

First, Archer has his face back.  That means the technology to perform face transplants is known by at least two groups – Walsh and the top surgical team from DC.  Why was Walsh so important?

Second, this top surgical team take Archer into surgery and tell his surgeon wife to stay home.  They don’t even call to let her know the surgery is done, or how it went.  Nor does Archer, for that matter.

Third, Archer says he no longer needs his scar.  Is he just willing to forget about his son?  Are he and Eve going to stop going to Michael’s grave now? Hey, I killed Castor, so fuck Michael.  This scar wasn’t really a reminder of my dead son; it was just a reminder that I had a vendetta.

Fourth, rather than call to ask about Adam, Archer just picks him up and surprises Eve.  Did he do the adoption papers already?  How is he able to take this juvenile out of the social services system and bring him to his home?  There are laws for this kind of thing.  He also decides to put Adam in Michael’s old room.  What if Eve and Jamie aren’t ready to move on yet?

Fifth, Jamie and Eve don’t seem to care about the above-mentioned points.

Sixth, fuck this movie.

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6 Thoughts.

  1. omg, this was the greatest thing ever. amazing sense of humor and great job breaking down the sheer insanity of this “movie”….i mean yeah the action and stunts were cool at times, but I just don’t understand how scripts like this make it through all of the editing/review processes without anyone raising an eyebrow or suggesting just a few changes to make the movie slightly less ridiculous.

    anyways, keep up the great work, i bookmarked this site because of your genius in this review. thanks for the laughs!

    • Thanks. I appreciate the compliments.

      You are right. I can’t imagine the review process that allows this stuff to pass.

  2. oh and by far the “best” part of the entire movie was the ending which you broke down for us with such elegance:
    “Third, Archer says he no longer needs his scar. Is he just willing to forget about his son? Hey, I killed Castor so fuck Michael. This scar wasn’t really a reminder of my dead son; it was just a reminder that I had a vendetta. Are they going to stop going to his grave now?

    Fourth, rather than call to ask about Adam, Archer just picks him up and surprises Eve. Did he do the adoption papers already? How is he able to just take this juvenile out of the social services system and bring him home? There are laws for this kind of thing. He also just decides to put Adam in Michael’s old room. What if Eve and Jamie aren’t ready to move on yet?

    Fifth, Jamie and Eve don’t seem to care about the above mentioned points.”

    lol! fkn amazing stuff, again your analysis is spot-on and had me laughing hysterically.

    • I don’t think anyone currently believes this is a good movie, but just in case…right? Thanks for the comment and for the page visit!

  3. Ok, this site is fantastic, bookmarking this! Your cynical, sarcastic stye in the analysis is right up my alley, & I really enjoyed reading this, & LOL’d many times tbroughout. This movie was just on TV, & there were so many things you mentioned that I didn’t understand either (particularly the different bodies thing, that nobody, including their wives, seemed to notice). And on the usual movie sites, it has good reviews. Also, the church-never in my life saw a church that has live doves wandering around, but perhaps they exist somewhere?

    • Glad you like it! Check out all of the other reviews as well. In terms of what happens in the film from scene to scene, this is one of the worst movies ever made. I think it’s a function of when the movie was made – there were a lot of bad action flicks at the time. Still, it’s unforgivable.

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