PlotRoland “Rollie” Tyler (Bryan Brown) is the best special effects man in the movie business. He’s so good that the Department of Justice asks him to help them. They are holding a mobster named Nicholas DeFranco (Jerry Orbach), who is turning state’s evidence against the mob. To protect him, they want to stage a fake assassination so everyone thinks he’s dead. For that, they need Rollie’s help.
What Made This Film WorkDirected by theater director Robert Mandel and starring barely-known Aussie Bryan Brown (Breaker Morant), F/X began life as a proposed low-budget television movie, but was upped to a feature film by producer Dodi Fayed, of Princess Di fame. Fayed made the decision to hire Mandel to direct because he was looking for someone other than an action director because he wanted a film in which the audience cared about the characters...
...he wanted a film in which the audience cared about the characters... Imagine that!
That decision is what made F/X what it is, which is a film you like because the characters interest you and you want to see what happens to them. Indeed, these are very richly drawn characters with lots of relatable traits. What’s more, the film is very smart in how it imparts these character traits in that it never once stops the plot to share them with you.
BUT... none of this is done in the usual action-film manner. There are no flashbacks. There are no ten minute weepy asides. There is no five minute saccharine sweet snapshot of the lead character’s life which finishes as the kids hug him and his wife kisses him goodbye for the day. Instead, you watch the plot unfold, and as you watch the plot, you learn all these things about Rollie from watching his actions, his responses, and how others respond to him. Essentially, you are awash in characterization, but you don’t even realize it.
Ultimately, this all makes for solid, enjoyable film with a high degree of re-watchability.