FX2 - The Deadly Art Of Illusion (1991)
Toying with illusions
After quitting the movie special effects industry, Rollie Tyler (Bryan Brown) has settled for a much quieter life, making a living as a specialist toy inventor. Along with his new girlfriend, Kim Brandon (Rachel Ticotin) and her son Chris (Dominic Zamprogna), he seems to have put behind him the scrapes with the police which caused him to reassess his life. But when Chris's father, Mike (Tom Mason) a New York cop, asks him to use his special effects knowledge to assist in capturing a ruthless killer, he feels obliged to help. Everything seems to be going to plan, until Mike is suspiciously murdered whilst laying in wait for the killer. Although his murder is put down to the killer that he was attempting to catch, Rollie knows that it wasn't and turns to his old friend, private investigator Leo McCarthy (Brian Dennehy) to assist.
Following the success of "FX - Murder By Illusion" 5 years earlier, the controlling powers decided it would be a great idea to make a sequel, and to be honest the resulting film does not suffer the fate that befalls most sequels. Probably the most annoying thing is that although they have moved the characters of Rollie and Leo on from their first outing, the main thrust of the plot has far too many similarities. The fact that the character of Rollie ends up assisting the police again and then ends up being a hunted man who cannot be sure who to trust is just far to similar to the original to make this film as good as it should be. The only other downside is that some of the elements to the film seem a little bit far fetched, but the upside of this is that the film becomes much more entertaining.
That is enough of the negatives, now to the positives. Although "FX2 - The Deadly Art Of Illusion" is a sequel, you can easily watch it without having to know the ins and outs of the original. On the few instances that they reference something from the first movie it is quickly explained in such away that you can easily take things for granted without thinking why, all the time. Personally I find this very appealing as unlike most films which are part of a set, you can definitely watch this independently of the first. On top of this the second one is not as dark as the first and has several funny scenes, which although are slightly unbelievable, makes this film far more entertaining than originally expected. Some of the most funny but also unbelievable features a fight between the killer and a life size mannequin clown which imitates its users every move. On top of this you still get to see some interesting special effects and fun creations which add to the entertainment factor of the movie.
Even though the film is much lighter than expected, it basically remains a thriller and although there are a couple of wholes in the plot, it still has enough oomph about it to keep you engrossed as you try and work out what is going on.
Probably the key to the enjoyment of "FX2 - The Deadly Art Of Illusion" lies in the hands of Bryan Brown as he reprises his role of Rollie Tyler. Although the character has moved on since the original outing, and is now accompanied by a partner and her child, he still remains an individual and engrossing character. Much of the lightness in the sequel comes from Brown as he increases the amount of humour in the film not only by his comical expressions but also his brilliant timing.
Alongside Brown you have Brian Dennehy, who reprises his role as Leo McCarthy who has now become a private detective. With the sequel, the character of Leo has slightly changed and has become much lighter, and in some ways more appealing to the general viewer. Also joining the cast is Rachel Ticotin as Rollie's girlfriend Kim, and Dominic Zamprogna as her young son Chris. Although the character of Chris is crucial to the story the character is never really explored and sadly young Dominic's performance is not the most realistic I have ever seen. The same can be said of the character of Kim, although not as crucial to the storyline, it could have been used too much greater affect.
The directional reins for "FX2 - The Deadly Art Of Illusion" are in the hands of Richard Franklin and his different style of film making is evident in the fact that this film is much lighter. In a way it feels that he may have realised that the similarities in the storyline between this and the first were too strong, so attempted to make it light hearted so that to give it a fresh feel. If this was his aim, he certainly succeeded and already mentioned it does make for a much more enjoyable movie. He has also kept the pace of the movie just right, giving you just enough time to think but not too long for you to feel like it is dragging. The soundtrack to FX2 follows on from the first movie, relying heavily on synth sounds. Although this is a little surprising seeing this film was made at the beginning of the 90's, and may seem a little strange for anyone who never saw the first film, but works as a nice bridge for those who did.
What this all boils down to is that although there are a few faults with "FX2 - The Deadly Art Of Illusion", I still really enjoy it, even more than the first film. Most of this can be put down to the fact that although it is still a thriller it has a much lighter feel which makes it more appealing to myself and anyone who finds serious thrillers hard going. On top of this you have the absolutely brilliant Bryan Brown who is a personal favourite of mine along with a much improved character for Brian Dennehy. Of course this film will appeal to anyone who saw the first film "FX - Murder by Illusion", but will also appeal to anyone who likes thrillers which are not overly dark or over taxing on the brain.
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