An eagle-eyed fan pokes fun at John Travolta for not wearing a mask while out in public, making reference to his 1997 action hit Face/Off. The John Woo movie featured a wild storyline, where Travolta’s FBI agent Sean Archer goes undercover by having the face of Nicolas Cage’s criminal mastermind Castor Troy transplanted onto his body. However, things go south quickly when Troy wakes up from his medically induced coma early and does the opposite. What results is a movie in which Travolta and Cage both give increasingly eccentric performances as they attempt to best one another.
The movie was a hit, becoming one of the most successful releases of 1997, and is best known now for its ridiculous premise and trademark over-the-top Woo action set pieces. A reboot from the writers of 22 Jump Street is currently in pre-production. Travolta and Cage have both gone on to have long careers, but their stars have faded in recent times, with Cage increasingly confined to direct-to-video releases and Travolta last starring in Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst’s box office flop The Fanatic.
On the weekend, William Stone, a British comedian, posted a photo of Travolta out shopping without a mask, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The accompanying caption both mocked Travolta for not wearing a mask, and also made a reference to the action hit, saying, “Glad to see Nicholas Cage is wearing his mask whilst shopping.” You can see the tweet below.
The reaction to the tweet was as funny as the original joke, with many on Twitter not realizing the reference and attacking Stone for misidentifying Travolta. Others took umbrage at his joke due to the fact that Travolta lost his wife, Kelly Preston, to cancer earlier this month. Stone doubled down, though, later tweeting that he didn’t even realize Cage had a wife. He again made mention of the controversy around his tweet this morning, replying to one of his new jokes, “sorry if this upsets anyone who knows someone famous whose wife has died.”
Taken without the context of Preston’s death, the tweet is quite funny, but was probably in poor taste given how recently Travolta’s wife passed. However, there is also a case to be made that unfortunately celebrities are fair game for criticism of this nature, especially when it comes to something as important as wearing a mask during the pandemic. Especially when the criticism is so light-hearted in nature, and not actually taking direct aim at Travolta.
It’s also a reminder of just how wild Face/Off was, even for a 90s action movie. The upcoming reboot sounds like it will be a parody of the original, given the writers are known for their comedies. Of particular interest will be who is cast. Given that Travolta and Cage looked nothing like each other, and had very different physical attributes beyond their faces, it would be fun to see the reboot acknowledge this by casting actors who are totally different body types.