The original Face/Off from director John Woo was an ambitious narrative about an advanced and absurd facial surgery in which the heroic Sean Archer (John Travolta) swapped faces with the terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) to pull off a covert mission. While the premise was surely ludicrous, it resulted in a massively entertaining experience that was relatively easy to follow along with. The planned sequel, on the other hand, is seemingly much more complex and complicated, with writer Simon Barrett recently recalling just how daunting a task it's been to explain the vision he and director Adam Wingard have for the follow-up, though confirms it's now in a much more digestible place.
"Face/Off 2 remains in healthy, active development. We have a script, we are rewriting our script, and I think we are really excited about the direction we're taking the rewrite. But we've got Neil Moritz and Paramount behind us and, so far, they keep giving us somewhat befuddled, but genuinely enthusiastic thumbs up, every step of the way," Barrett confirmed with ComicBook.com. "I want to say something that people haven't mentioned yet. It took Adam and I two years to pitch Face/Off 2, because our pitch was so confusing, that [the studio] just kept saying, 'We think we like what you're saying, but can you just explain who's got whose face on in this scene?' Ultimately, it was only when they actually paid us to write a 35-page treatment that I think everyone really understood what we were proposing. There's a lot of enthusiasm at the studio level, which I'm not used to. I think that has a little bit to do with my friend Adam's recent monster movie's [Godzilla vs. Kong] success in theaters this year. But you never know, you never know."
When the initial reports of the project emerged, it was unclear if this new film was a remake of the source material or a continuation of the previous film, with Barrett confirming how much more potential comes from doing a sequel than from merely rehashing the original narrative.
"When you're doing a movie like Face/Off 2, you're actually not allowed to talk about it," the writer admitted. "But we had an announcement and I don't even know if the announcement was actually totally intentional, in that it was announced as like a Face/Off remake and Adam and I had to actually get vocal and say, 'No, it's not a remake. It's a direct sequel.' Whether that's better or worse, we don't really care, because we think it's better, but it definitely is better than a Face/Off remake, because you pretty much know where that would go, don't you? Whereas continuing the story of Castor Troy and Sean Archer and maybe adding some younger characters to the mix, to me, is much more interesting."
Given that genre fans have become fans of the filmmaking duo from their work with films like You're Next and The Guest, Barrett assured that the Face/Off sequel isn't merely an opportunity to do a project with wide-ranging appeal and that fans can expect their filmmaking sensibilities continued with the project.
"Here's the truth of the matter; it's not like this was a job for hire. We sought this out, we pitched it to the right people who own the rights, and we're getting it moving," Barrett ensured. "Adam always said, and I would say the same, if we ever achieved any real success, the way we were going to use it was to make more idiosyncratic films, more films that are our vision, more films that are wild and fun and the ways that we specifically like to do that. And he's really put his money where his mouth is. I haven't had that opportunity yet, but Adam has, and he's getting stuff like Thundercats and Face/Off 2 green-lit. I think you read the trades, and you might think like, 'Oh, these guys are just signing on to projects and getting paid.'"
He added, "I want to be clear: we're not getting paid particularly well. These are projects that we are generating and convincing studios to let us play with these beloved valuable IPs, so that's where we're currently spending Adam's capital on some potentially really exciting films. That doesn't necessarily mean these things are going to reach fruition. Obviously, there's a lot of steps between Face/Off 2 getting onto a theater screen in front of you, including some obvious, perhaps, casting challenges, but it won't be for lack of trying on our end."
Barrett recently wrote and directed a segment for the horror anthology V/H/S/94, which is now streaming on Shudder. Stay tuned for details on the future of the Face/Off sequel.
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