F/X 2 Review
If anything, director Richard Franklin simply remakes the original 1986 film, bringing back its stars Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy in another re-run of police corruption, murder and special-effects. If Robert Mandel’s original film was turned into a jigsaw after its theatrical exhibition, then Franklin has simply put it all back together again with the pieces in the correct places. Essentially, the set-up is the same when Rollie Tyler (Brown) is asked to help a cop catch a killer through his use of special prosthetic make-up and movie-effects trickery. However, things go wrong and the cop is killed, leaving Rollie to pick up the pieces, only he begins to suspect corruption may be afoot. Calling on the help of his friend Leo McCarthy (Dennehy), they discover that the murder took place because of an old case involving stolen gold coins that had been missing for decades. As a psychotic assassin attempts to destroy all evidence of the murder, including Rollie and his family, he and Leo must find the culprits before they too find themselves in a body bag.
F/X 2 taken on its own merits is a perfectly fine action-thriller – it has two likeable leads, plentiful plot holes, some gratuitous nudity, several inventive action sequences, and plenty of wry humour – pretty much the staple diet of many a production line action film released in the late eighties and early nineties. Franklin knows the draw of the film, that being Tyler’s special-effects getting him out of trouble, and he plays on this to great effect. In one such sequence, Tyler having given up the movie-making business to make children’s toys, has created a robot that can be controlled by a bodysuit. When an intruder enters his house, Tyler dons the suit making for quite an entertaining, original duel. Likewise, when he and his family get trapped in a supermarket, he uses his expertise to utilise everyday household objects to evade the killer including hairspray fused baked bean bombs, and an inventive use of popcorn.
Yet, F/X 2 is far too similar to its predecessor to really distinguish itself, and much like the first film, the plot holes throw up so many questions as if trying to test the boundaries of our suspension of disbelief. The ending is so convoluted it becomes unintentionally comical, and since fans of the first film will have already realised the similarities between the two, they’ll know exactly where its going leaving any sense of mystery pretty much out in the cold. Additionally, unlike the first film’s sense of homage to old-style prosthetics and movie special-effects (certainly when viewing it retrospectively), the sequel appears dated with its obvious hints towards computer technology and robotics.
The film may have been made in 1991, but its heart is still stuck in the eighties, as it resembles those by-the-numbers releases that made the decade so lovable. Its lack of pretension and goal for pure escapism is something that can’t really be faulted, so it’s forgivable that the film lacks any of the originality of the first film. But both movies lived off the idea of high-concept, and as Franklin paces his film like an out of control bullet train, there’s little time left to dwell of its inadequacies.
The image is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Like the F/X – Murder By Illusion DVD, this region 2 edition of the sequel also lacks anamorphic enhancement, but it doesn’t cause too much of a problem. There’s still plenty of detail in the image, with flesh tones appearing natural and colours looking much stronger than the original film’s release (but this is probably due to the sequel being made five years later). There is some obvious aliasing which can become distracting at times, but the print is in good condition, only displaying the odd of speck of dirt and being free from any noticeable grain.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is adequate but could have been better. Dialogue is clear but not very well separated, and the directional sounds in the surround speakers appear rather muffled.
A theatrical trailer is also included on the DVD.
F/X 2 might have gaping plot holes, lack any sense of originality, and be nothing more than a retread of the original film, but it’s highly entertaining nonetheless. Brown and Dennehy return as an unlikely but endearing crime-busting buddy-duo, and the film has plentiful laughs and inventive action sequences that make for an ultimately flawed, but exceedingly enjoyable movie.