Thelma Schoonmaker took home the Oscar for editing and the fights testify to it: there is no method to these matches, no information on boxing, only adrenal pounding and desperate fear. Schoonmaker dredges the matches in momentary flashes of primeval instinct. When LaMotta feels suspicious of his wife, his opponents become dramatically-lit monstrosities shrouded in smoke and slow motion and shadow. His fights are pictures of his psyche.
Without Joe’s perspective of the world he hates, there’s nothing – not even resentment – with which we can empathize. Joe is left merely with things we can’t condone. This doesn’t prevent it from stopping your blood with its performances. The depth of Cage’s eyes describes hurt in ways that words fail.
The aspect of rebellion in Fight Club makes it the anthem of a cinematic generation, who may not understand it at all. Remember, “the first rule of fight club is that you do not talk about fight club.” If you argued about its philosophy, its meaning, its impact, its significance, the movie would punch you in the nose.
The transition is over pretty quickly. Face/Off is not about change, but about how the face we have and the role we are given dictates how we act. As soon as the act of transferring one actor’s soul to the other’s body is complete in the mind of the audience, the only task remaining is all performance.