Tag Archives: Dodi Fayed

F/X2 (1991, Richard Franklin)

F/X2 is very affable. It’s so affable, it encourages one to overlook its major shortcomings. First off, it’s a PG sequel to an R-rated original, which cuts down on the grit (though rated PG-13, the rating’s needlessly inflated with minor nudity). Second, it’s got Toronto standing in for New York. There’s some New York location shooting… but it’s not enough. The production simply doesn’t have any personality.

Of course, neither of those problems is really damning, if the script were good. Bill Condon’s script isn’t terrible–though it seems like it must not have been much work, more of an outline really, since the entire film depends solely on Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy. They’re playing PG versions of themselves from the first film, which is problematic, but they’re so likable, who cares?

Most of the rest of the film is the special effects. Except they’re not particularly believable or thoughtful–it’s like an episode of “MacGyver.”

I’ve only seen the film once before–at most twice and long ago–but I remembered two of the three twists. In fact, I think this film has conditioned me to be wary of Philip Bosco, never believing he isn’t secretly a villain.

The supporting cast is mostly wasted–Rachel Ticotin and Joanna Gleason barely get any screen time as the new love interests. And then Kevin J. O’Connor shows up to annoy.

Franklin’s direction is pretty good, somewhat hampered by Toronto.

But Brown and Dennehy are so affable, who cares?

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Richard Franklin; screenplay by Bill Condon, based on characters created by Robert T. Megginson and Gregory Fleeman; director of photography, Victor J. Kemper; edited by Andrew London; music by Lalo Schifrin; production designer, John Jay Moore; produced by Dodi Fayed and Jack Wiener; released by Orion Pictures.

Starring Bryan Brown (Rollie Tyler), Brian Dennehy (Leo McCarthy), Rachel Ticotin (Kim Brandon), Joanna Gleason (Liz Kennedy), Philip Bosco (Lt. Ray Silak), Kevin J. O’Connor (Matt Neely), Tom Mason (Mike Brandon), Dominic Zamprogna (Chris Brandon), Jossie DeGuzman (Marisa Velez) and John Walsh (Rado).


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F/X (1986, Robert Mandel)

About ten minutes in to F/X, I got wondering how the film was going to deal with being a special effects-filled film about a guy doing special effects for films. I suppose they didn’t have to deal with that relationship, but it kept seeming more and more like they were going to need to address it. Then, at the end, rather simply, they did. It’s a quick “thank you” at the end of the film to the audience. Movies tend not to do the ending “thank you” anymore (Ocean’s Twelve coming the closest in recent memory) because it’s an acknowledgment of the film’s unreality… it probably has a lot to do with films being more centered towards the eventual home video market as opposed to the theatrical experience. An ending “thank you” for watching is definitely a theatrical consideration (I mean, doesn’t Predator even thank its audience?).

Anyway, the ending brings F/X up a little bit, because the film’s a narrative mess (it also has the most obvious stuntmen I can remember seeing in a long time). It has a solid opening, great first twenty minutes, maybe even twenty-five, then the narrative splits between Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy. Brown goes from being the protagonist to the subject for half his scenes and the others are action scenes–and good action scenes–so he’s sort of lost. The Dennehy arc is great stuff (though incredibly unrealistic), with Joe Grifasi as his sidekick.

The film’s really well-paced, given all those narrative difficulties, and it’s a constant pleasure to watch. The experience stems from three things, audio and visual. First, Robert Mandel is a good director. He knows how to frame a shot, he knows how to have it lighted and he knows how to have scenes put together (Terry Rawlings’s editing has some outstanding moments–there’s also some scenes where it appears he cut too early, like the dialogue was interrupted for running time, but then I realized it was a stylistic choice and a fine one). F/X looks great from that department, but also because it’s an on location New York movie. Lots of great stuff to show off why New York is the best city to shoot a movie in. Third, and probably most important tying together points one and two: Bill Conti’s score. From the opening credits, Conti establishes his importance to the film and he keeps it up throughout. Conti’s filmography is spotty in terms of film quality, but he does amazing work here.

While Brown is good as the lead, his character–after the story’s moving–rarely has any time to reflect on what’s happened. It’s a little off-putting, but F/X actually has some wonderful subtle moments to take care of those deficiencies. Dennehy’s great. Brian Dennehy could sell real estate on Jupiter and make it believable. Supporting wise… Grifasi’s okay, Cliff De Young’s real good–particularly in the first twenty minutes, which appear to have had tighter revisions–Jerry Orbach’s funny, Jossie DeGuzman’s scenes are all good… The real acting champ, besides Dennehy, is Diane Venora. Her role’s relatively small, but she’s fantastic.

However long the laundry list of problems, F/X is still a fine diversion. And an exceptionally effective one, thanks to the fine production values.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Mandel; written by Robert T. Megginson and Gregory Fleeman; director of photography, Miroslav Ondricek; edited by Terry Rawlings; music by Bill Conti; produced by Dodi Fayed and Jack Wiener; released by Orion Pictures.

Starring Bryan Brown (Rollie Tyler), Brian Dennehy (Leo McCarthy), Diane Venora (Ellen), Cliff De Young (Lipton), Mason Adams (Col. Mason), Jerry Orbach (Nicholas DeFranco), Joe Grifasi (Mickey), Martha Gehman (Andy), Roscoe Orman (Capt. Wallenger), Trey Wilson (Lt. Murdoch), Tom Noonan (Varrick), Paul D’Amato (Gallagher) and Jossie DeGuzman (Marisa Velez).


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