Editorial – Which Nic Cage Film was Better: The Rock or Face/Off?

Recently, HBO has been playing Face/Off and as a huge fan of Nic Cage and the movie, I cannot help but watch it every time it’s on. A couple days later, I noticed that The Rock was on tv and of course, I had to watch it. This got me to thinking…which Nic Cage film is better: The Rock (TR) or Face/Off (FO)?

In order to compare them, I tried to break down components of each movie that I found essential:

1. Plot

TR – A scientist (Cage) and the only man to ever escape Alcatraz (Sean Connery) must break into Alcatraz to stop military rogues from bombing innocent Americans.

FO – In order to put an end to a crime streak, a detective (Travolta) undergoes face-switching surgery with the notorious criminal (Cage) who killed his son. The criminal ends up getting the detective’s face, essentially switching identities. Hijinks ensue.

Winner: Face/Off. The plot is so absurd that I cannot help but enjoy it. Just writing the plot I started laughing. Imagine the guy who wrote this pitching it to a production studio.

2. Supporting Cast

TR – Sean Connery as John Patrick Mason

FO – John Travolta as Sean Archer/Castor Troy

Winner: Connery – Travolta’s a good actor and his performance as two characters (will be discussed later for Cage) was enjoyable. He had some great lines and held his own in the actions scenes, but Connery had to win this one for me. Connery’s portrayal of Mason, the only person to ever escape Alcatraz, was a flashback to his time as James Bond. He was smooth, smart, and funny, but he also kicked a whole lot of ass for an older man. Plus, his Scottish accent always leaves me smitten.

3. Nic Cage’s Character’s name:

TR –  Dr. Stanley Goodspeed

FO – Castor Troy/Sean Archer

Winner – Face/Off and Castor Troy. What a great name for a bad guy, just oozes of that 90’s action film genre.

4. Quotable Lines (listing only a few, but both have many)

TR – John Mason: Are you sure you’re ready for this?
Stanley Goodspeed: I’ll do my best.
John Mason: Your “best”! Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.
Stanley Goodspeed: Carla was the prom queen.


Stanley Goodspeed: Listen, I think we got started off on the wrong foot.Stan Goodspeed, FBl. Uh – Let’s talk music. Do you like the Elton John song, “Rocket Man”?
Captain Darrow: I don’t like soft-ass shit.
Stanley Goodspeed: Oh, you – Oh, oh. Oh.Well, I only bring it up because, uh, it’s you. You’re the Rocket Man.
[Goodspeed fires a rocket at him]


[Sean Archer and Castor Troy, each wearing the other’s face, meet]
Castor Troy: It’s like looking in a mirror. Only… not.


Castor Troy: Y’know, I could eat a peach for hours.

Winner: Tie. Both movies have too many great lines. I initially wanted to go with TR, which has lines that really stick out due to what they are saying, but then I thought about how absurd some the the lines from FO are. They don’t stand out as much because they seem like standard dialogue (albeit written by a 12 year old)  if you never saw the movie, but the context they are used in and the way they are delivered (“I’m Castor Troy!” for example) take them completely over the top.

5. Nic Cage’s Performance

TR: Stanley Goodpeed, a chemical specialist with no experience in combat who must fight rogue marines in Alcatraz.

FO: Castor Troy, a criminal mastermind who killed the son of detective Sean Archer in an attempt to kill the detective. Early in the movie, they switch faces, and thus, identities, making Archer look like Troy and vise versa. Cage ends up playing Archer (the good guy) who is pretending to be Troy (the bad guy) for most of the movie.

Winner: Face/Off. This was an easy one. This movie gets pretty meta. Because Cage was initially a bad guy but now a good guy that looks like the bad guy, he must act like a bad guy to convince other criminals that he is in fact Castor Troy (the bad guy) so he can get the information that he wants from them. Basically, Nic Cage is playing a nicer version of the bad guy. Obviously this role is a very complicated one, and Cage plays it completely over the top. His line deliveries are very emotional, sometimes to the point of being comical, but I loved every second of it. His performance in this movie might be my favorite out of all the films he has been in.

Final Verdict:

So after my breakdown, the clear winner was Face/Off with a 3-1 score.  The unique and absurd plot just really does it for me. Cage’s performance is an unforgettable one. Despite the score, choosing a winner was difficult for me. Both are films that I grew up watching and will always hold a special place in my heart.

Now I ask you, which one do you like better?


  1. Brian Galbraith says:

    I’d have to agree with you. From F/O, I also enjoy the following dialogue:

    Archer (as Troy): I’m Castor Troy, HOOOO!
    Guard: You don’t stop the fights, I do.

  2. Max Why says:

    why wasn’t Con Air in the mix. Cage’s accent alone makes it a contender plus John Cusack and John Malkovich. No contest.

  3. Alec says:

    Con Air should have been a contender too, but Face/Off still would have won.

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