The unsolicited screenplay was written by actor Gregory Fleeman and documentarian Robert T. Megginson and they’d never tried to sell a movie before. When producer Jack Wiener first read it, they told him they saw it as a made-for-TV movie, but he encouraged them to make it into an actual film, which he produced along with Dodi Fayed.
Yes, the same one who died alongside Princess Diana.
Director Robert Mandel (School Ties, The Substitute, the pilot of The X-Files) isn’t an action movie director yet he’s turned the script into a great action film with real heart.
F/X expert Roland “Rollie” Tyler (Bryan Brown) has been hired by the government to fake the murder of mob informant Nicholas DeFranco (Jerry Orbach) so that he isn’t murdered before he testifies against his former crime associates. Edward Mason (Mason Adams), the agent in charge, tasks Tyler with firing the shots at DeFranco, a job for which he’ll be paid $30,000. Yet when he’s picked up after the job, he’s told that they want no loose ends and the agents try to kill him.
He escapes, but everywhere he goes, people close to him die, including his girlfriend Ellen (Diane Venora). Her murder puts Detective Leo McCarthy (Bryan Dennehy) on the case. He’s been after DeFranco for years and wants to put him in jail instead of witness protection.
F/X has the twists and turns that I love in a mystery film. Plus, between Orbach, Dennehy, Brown and Tom Noonan, so many of my favorite actors show up in this movie. The special F/X idea is pretty great, too. You can see posters for Zombi and Fade to Black in Tyler’s studio, plus he mentions working on I Dismember Mama.
F/X 2 (1991)
Richard Franklin came to America to make movies after success in his native Australia with films like Fantasm, Patrick and Road Games. He made Psycho II, Cloak and Dagger, Link and this movie here before he went back home.
The script was written by Bill Condon, who also wrote Strange Behavior and Strange Invaders before moving on to direct movies like Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Chicago, Dreamgirls and the final two Twilight films.
Rollie Tyler (Brown) has moved from simply practical effects to building a robot clown named Bluey which is controlled by a telemetry suit. This leads to an amazing fight where both Tyler and his robot are both battling a henchman. But before we get to that, we get to why Tyler is in another adventure.
This time, his girlfriend Kim (Rachel Ticotin, Con Air)’s policeman ex-husband has been assigned to stakeout a killer who has already murdered one model. He asks him to entrap the man so they can get him off the streets, but the cop gets killed and Tyler is the only one with the evidence showing that he was murdered. He calls his old friend Leo McCarthy (Brian Dennehy) for help.
The real story concerns stolen solid gold medallions that were cast by Michelangelo which show the figures in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Now, Tyler has to use his F/X abiities and Leo his detective skills to get those coins back to the Vatican while avoiding the killers on their trail.
While not as good as the first, the team of Brown and Dennehy is a winning one. Both F/X and F/X 2 aired often on cable when I was young, so they’re comfort food to enjoy whenever I need them thanks to their blu ray release.
The Kino Lorber blu ray release of F/X and F/X 2 has an on-camera interview with F/X director Robert Mandel and making of features and trailers for both movies. You can get it directly from Kino Lorber.