F/X 2 (1991) – Richard Franklin

Five years after the first film, and a lifetime of difference for me, Roland Tyler (Bryan Brown) and Leo McCarthy (Brian Dennehy) were back in action. Unfortunately, an attempt to continue the gritty feeling special effects thriller comes across as a little disjointed, and honestly, more convoluted than it needed to be.

An attempt to make the story bigger in size while still embracing what made the first smaller film work only causes a series of fumbles as Tyler is asked by his girlfriend’s (Rachel Ticotin) ex, NYPD cop Mike Brandon (Tom Mason) with what should be an average bust, but instead leads to another murder, and a sprawling plot to return some coins designed by Michelangelo to the Vatican.

Like the first film Leo doesn’t show up until halfway through the picture, but this time around Tyler and McCarthy actually get to share a lot more screentime, and there’s a fun chemistry between the two actors.

Toronto serves as New York, and Lalo Schifrin replaces Bill Conti in the music department.

Yes, Roland gets to reveal some of the trade secrets of the special effects industry again, but it doesn’t have the same feel as the first film, which definitely had a rougher edge to it. Both Brown and Dennehy are fine in their roles, and they keep the film alive, as you want to see what they get up to and how they are going to best the baddies, because that is never in question – there doesn’t seem to be any real stakes for our heroes.

The supporting cast includes Joanna Gleason and Kevin J. O’Connor, and a slew of corrupt cops working with the mob. The only good cops in this film tend to end up dead, underused, or become private investigators which is what Leo did after he was fried from the force following the events of the first film – of course, he and Roland were well taken care of financially considering the way the first film finished.

There’s some fun bits in the film, the grocery store sequence is a lot of fun, though I am less sure about the animatronic clown that, to be honest, was the only thing I remembered from the film before I sat down for the rewatch. I will say this, for the most part the film does a really good job of making Toronto look like New York, of course since it was over twenty years ago now I don’t really recognise any landmarks – except for a Kingston prison that stands in for Staten Island.

I have to say, I still dig the idea of these films, and would love to see something revisit them somehow, sure there was a spinoff series a couple years after the film, and perhaps a series would be the way to go, but lets keep the gritty storylines, and really embrace the special effects and the characters.

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