A quaint little thriller that certainly qualified as “edgy” back in 1986, F/X had a super-cool poster featuring a grainy black & white closeup of star Bryan Brown and one of those way too long taglines that were all the rage in the ’80s. But you know what? It did the trick in creating a sense of awe and mystery to this tricksy tale in which a special effects man named Rollie Tyler (Brown), renowned for his work in hack-and-slash flicks like I Dismember Mama, is hired by the Justice Department to stage the death of a mobster (Jerry Orbach) who’s about to enter the Witness Protection Program. Of course, the whole thing is a double-cross, and Rollie soon teams up with a maverick homicide detective (Brian Dennehy) as he tries to figure out who set him up — and why. As a mystery, F/X is about as intricate as an episode of Law & Order (and about half as plausible), but that’s not what’s important here — the real star of the show is, of course, the special effects work, which adds a fun, fantastical layer of “Is it real or isn’t it?” to an otherwise pretty pedestrian conspiracy drama. The film was a hit with critics and scored well in its advance screenings — F/X probably could’ve made a lot more money with a title that didn’t leave a lot of people wondering just what in the hell it meant.
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