F/X (1986) – Robert Mandel

Bryan Brown plays Roland Tyler, one of the top special effects people working in the business. He’s built a name for himself as well as a brand, but he’s just been approached for a special kind of gig in Robert Mandel’s F/X. He’s approached by a member of the Justice Department to help out on their Witness Relocation Program, by performing what would appear to be a very public assassination of a retired criminal godfather, DeFranco (Jerry Orbach), who is going to turn state’s evidence.

Unfortunately, no one can be trusted in this tale, and despite rigging DeFranco himself, Tyler soon finds himself on the run from the law for murder! With no one to trust and no one to turn to, Roland brings his practical special effects game to work as he goes after the corrupt agents who set him up, determined to prove his innocence.

Working the case from the other end, and not appearing until halfway through the film is Brian Dennehy’s Leo McCarthy, a dedicated NYPD lieutenant who is more interested in solving the case than making nice with his co-workers. And sadly, the two characters only share a few moments of screentime together.

Seeing Roland practice his craft in the real world lets the viewers know that you can’t believe everything you see, and honestly, I was one of those kids, who grew up into one of those guys, who just loves learning how did they do that?, so I enjoyed the film when I first saw it a teen, and loved my recent rewatch.

That’s the great thing about practical effects, some of the way in which they are made may have changed a little, but the ideas are still the same, and its great to see how they get applied and come to life.

The film is filled with a few recognisable actors who seemed to be everywhere in the 80s like Cliff De Young, Mason Adams and despite the fact that he only has one or two lines, the tall and lanky Tom Noonan is instantly recognisable. The film has a score by Bill Conti, and the entire thing has a bit of a gritty feel to it, which lends a reality to the film.

As mean as it sounds, Roland’s assistant, Andy (played by Martha Gehman) feels a little out of place. Gehman just seems to be acting in a different film, or different type of movie. Overall, however, the film remains a lot of fun to watch, and I remember eathing this on up on video tape when I brought it home from good old Vision Video.

And honestly, I love the idea of movie magic being used in the real world to create believable illusions. I dig that idea, and that’s probably why I watched the original as a kid, and what feels like a lifetime later, but was only five years, I dove into the sequel. Now, I just have to wait until tomorrow.

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