The original ‘F/X’ failed to make a dent at the box office in 1986. But cable TV and video soon created a loyal cult following for the movie, in which an F/X (special effects) wiz named Rollie Tyler (Bryan Brown) gets hired to fake the assassination of a mobster and ends up being pursued by killers and conniving detective Leo McCarthy (Brian Dennehy).
A sequel was inevitable. Though the usual disappointment sets in quickly, it’s not crushing. F/X 2 delivers a fair share of action, and director Richard Franklin tries to make up for covering old turf by speeding up the pace. It helps that Brown and Dennehy are back. The two actors have a low-pressure charm that carries you over the inconsistencies and gaping holes in the Bill Condon script.
The story picks up with Rollie, who is living with Kim (Rachel Ticotin), a divorce with a young son. Rollie has quit movies for mega-tech toy making; then Kim’s ex-husband, a cop named Mike (Tom Mason), enlists him in a plan to trap a murderer. You wouldn’t think a sharpie like Rollie would be dumb enough to get involved again, but without such willing suspension of logic, most sequels would never get made.
There are some perfunctory new characters. If Lieutenant Ray Silak and Assistant DA Liz Kennedy manage to make an impression, it’s only because they are played by two extraordinary stage actors, Philip Bosco and Joanna Gleason. Otherwise, the emphasis is on the diverting gimmicks. In Rollie’s hands, tennis-ball machines, frozen chickens, toilet paper and a clown robot called Bluey are all lethal weapons.