Archive for September, 2011

Flashback to… F/X Murder By Illusion

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Reviews
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This week I bring you another 1986 gem.   A sadly very obscure film called F/X: Murder By Illusion.  In this film directed by Robert Mandel, starring Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy we are taken into the world of professional special effects.

Roland ‘Rollie’ Tyler is played by Australian born Bryan Brown (Cocktail, Australia, Gorillas in the Mist) is the best special effects man in the business who gets approached by a government agent and is asked to help them stage the murder of a high profile mob boss who is turning states witness and is being put into witness protection.

Having agreed Rollie sets about preparing everything for his stunt and executes it as asked.  He realizes something went wrong and discovers that the murder of the mob boss is being blamed on him.   He then sets out  to clear his name of the murder by using all his skills as a special effects wizard.  He recruits his friend and partner Andy (Martha Gehman) to help him and eventually joins forces with Lt. Leo McCarthy (Brian Dennehy), the policeman initially tasked with finding the killer of DeFranco, the mob boss.   Soon Rollie and Leo are knee deep in secrets, dirty cops and, like Rollies’ effects, nothing is truly as it seems.

F/X eventually spawned a TV series by the same name in 1996 which chronicled more cases that Leo asks Rollie to help on.  While not quite true to the movies it wasn’t a bad tie in, even though it came ten years after the first movie and 5 after the sequel.

A fun action adventure romp, F/X is well written despite one or two of the plot twists not being too surprising, and while the basic premise is not new the execution is original and entertaining.   All the actors felt well cast and play their roles very well and manage a fine equilibrium between seriousness and occasionally quite funny dry wit.


Rollie (Bryan Brown) with Rosebud (the monster) and Lipton (Cliff De Young) from the Justice department.

If you are looking for a fun movie that is slightly different from the norm then I can strongly recommend F/X Murder By Illusion.

All in all: 4 out of 5

FLASHBACK TO… TOP GUN

What do Tom Cruise, Walker Texas Ranger1, Heroes2, Batman3, China4 and The Shawshank Redemption5 have in common?

That’s right.  Top Gun.

This 1986 movie follows the hotshot pilot Pete Mitchell, call sign Maverick, and his friend and partner Nick Bradshaw, call sign Goose, as they get to take their shot at the Fighter Weapons School, better known as TOPGUN, to be trained and considered as the very best fighter pilots in the navy.

During their time there Mavericks’ showboating and attitude causes a lot of problems between him and several of the other pilots but most notable with Iceman and his partner Slider.   During his time at TOPGUN Maverick also falls in love and begins a relationship with the civilian contractor, Charlotte Blackwood just referred to as Charlie, who is hired as one of their instructors.
Competition for the coveted TOPGUN trophy,  which officially labels you the best, is tight between Iceman and Maverick and during one training mission Mavericks’ plane malfunctions and during their ejection Goose is killed.  Maverick then faces the decision of staying in TOPGUN to graduate or handing in his wings for good.

Directed by Tony Scott, brother of Ridley Scott (Director for Blade Runner), who cut his directing teeth making advertisements and while the film is by no means bad, it does feel like a 2 hour long ad for the US Navy.

The acting is good and one can see why Tom Cruise became the A-list star he did during that period. The sound track is memorable, having tracks like Highway to the Danger zone, Dock of the bay and Take my Breath Away.
The story is not the most original or surprising and the writing is average but it still belongs into the category of sadly lover looked classics

All in all: 4 out of 5

1 Clarence Gillyard Jnr (Topgun:  Sundown.   Walker Texas Ranger: James Trivette)
2Adrian Passdar (Topgun: Chipper.   Heroes: Nathan Petrelli)
3 Val Kilmer (Topgun: Iceman.   Batman: Batman)
4http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/28/china-tv-news-top-gun
5 Tim Robbins (Topgun: Merlin.   Shawshank: Andy Dufresne)