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Face/Off 1


On the divine ground of justice

The day of his greatest success, FBI agent Archer is greeted by his subordinates with a party. The CIA sends champagne. He answers darkly, Why don’t they drink to the memory of their fallen comrades? He knows the names of the dead; they died under his command, indeed, for his cause.

He promises his wife, He will come back, love her & their daughter, whose education has been badly neglected. He spent six years in the wilderness, so to speak, hunting Castor & Pollux Troy, the twin criminals who murdered his son. His greatest triumph recalls his worst defeat. He did not use to neglect his family: His son was killed accidentally, because he was playing with him. Perhaps abandoning family life is needful for law enforcement. But he had to have a family for law to become important: He wants to keep his scars, because they remind him of his wounds.

You look like you just fucked your mother is the line Castor’s associates give Archer when they first see him wearing Castor’s face. A law-abiding citizen would be horrified by nothing so much as incest. His great disgust for crime prevented Archer from seeing the life of crime. Mothers still love their children; brothers still love each other; & partners in crime trust each other & earn a living through business. What then separates the law-abiding & the lawless?

Family is older than city. – Archer wants his family back, not only to avenge his men. Castor is trying to avenge his brother’s death at Archer’s hands; perhaps he wants his old life back. Castor’s former lover, who now loves Archer, is there to avenge her brother, whom Castor murdered. The gunfights opening & closing the movie happen because a plane cannot fly & boats cannot sail. In both cases, Castor is trying unsuccessfully to escape Archer’s wrath. Why should this happen twice?

The story ends with this gunfight in a church. In the end, the good have to hold on to the good, the bad try to avoid ending up with the bad. Fear & temptation are not enough to change men. Confrontation only confirms to each his way of life. The villain mocks the good versus evil morality of religion. Well, God might not make men fight, but religion gives coherence to the fight. God knows the dead & so men cannot forget either.

His wife is named Eve; the boy he adopts, Castor’s boy, Adam. Biblical names are replacing Greek names. Perhaps peaceful family life must replace heroic strife. For some reason, heroes are not fit to live in this world & they are a danger to everything they touch. & the Christian God glorified sacrifice…

One of the best action movies. See it.