It's Just an Illusion: What good 80s action movies were all about (minor spoilers)...8/10
There was something about 80s action movies that recent films in the genre haven't been able to capitalize on. I think a lot of it has to do with lack of originality, as the genre has been notorious for an excess of remakes of old action movies or Hollywood versions of foreign action films, new or old. But, there's just something about them that aren't exciting, anymore. At least not all of them. The 80s, for me, seemed to have some of the best of the genre--The Terminator, the Mad Max trilogy, etc. F/X is one of them. A cool story with good action sequences.
Rollie Tyler (Bryan Brown), special effects genius, is hired by the FBI to use his expertise in a setup to fake the death of mobster Nicholas DeFranco, who they claim is going to be their informant. However, as Tyler will soon become very familiar with, the arrangement is a hoax and the agents aren't who they seem. Unfortunately, Tyler, who thought he was doing something good, and reluctantly so, he is caught in the middle of a game of cat and mouse because he is considered "loose ends."
They kill his girlfriend in the scuffle, and Tyler soon realizes who he's up against because these guys will stop at nothing until he's dead, regardless of who they kill in the crossfire. But Tyler is no dummy. He gets smart and uses his special effects genius to keep one step ahead of the paranoid agents who want him dead. In the meantime, our middleman is Brian Dennehy as the smooth-talking detective, Leo McCarthy. He's the only one with any guts to sense foul play is afoot and the only one really willing to help out Rollie. The object of the game is to find out what kind of dirty business those crooked agents Lipton (Cliff DeYoung) and Mason (Mason Adams) are up to, and what it has to do with faking the death of a notorious mobster (Jerry Orbach).
The movie has some pretty good action and chase sequences, and the finale is a cool idea as Rollie Tyler has to use some clever special effects to put a stop to enemies. He's got a pretty big bag of tricks up his sleeves. Though a little slow at first, the real fun begins once Rollie is hired by those mysterious agents to do a job. Overall, it's a pretty cool movie with a great idea for a story.
If you enjoy this movie, you'd probably like the sequel, F/X 2, which is quite similar, using the story of Rollie Tyler being set up for another mysterious cop scheme. Only with all the corruption going on in that story, Tyler's mishaps in the first look like small potatoes. Plus, Dennehy gets a bigger part, this time teaming up with Tyler (you'll see why in the finale of F/X part 1). They're both worth a try.