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'F/X' Has Something Special as a Thriller

January 24, 1991|MICHAEL BELL

In the 1980s, many filmmakers relied heavily upon special-effects artists to supply their films with the graphic visuals that the public supposedly demanded. In some cases, the artist was called upon to carry the film with his or her technical wizardry.

In 1986, a film was made that not only employed these magicians of latex and corn syrup, but was actually about them.

"F/X's" main character, Rollie Tyler, is a top F/X (film abbreviation for "special effects") man who is courted by the Justice Department to stage the fake assassination of a crime boss planning to testify against the mob.

After a considerable amount of persuasion and ego massaging by the Justice Department, Rollie (Australian star Bryan Brown) decides to go through with the scam--completely unaware of the roller-coaster ride he's about to embark upon.

Director Robert Mandel cleverly injects so many twists and turns into his film that the viewer, along with Rollie, is left to discern whom to trust--if anyone. It's as if Mandel is playing a game with his audience, daring us to predict what will happen next. In most cases, he succeeds in leaving us baffled.

"F/X" is a gripping thriller throughout. In addition to the inventive story line, the performances are fine, especially Brian Dennehy's, as the rebellious cop who is obsessed with unraveling the case.

Incidentally, a sequel, "F/X 2," is scheduled to be released later this year.

"F/X" (1986), directed by Robert Mandel. 109 minutes. Rated R.

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