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Film / F/X: Murder by Illusion

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Is it murder or is it Title Drop?

Rollie: In this hand is the ammo for the gun.
Rollie: And this is Krazy Glue. 1001 uses... now 1002.
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F/X: Murder by Illusion is a 1986 movie starring Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy, about a movie special effects man, Rollie Tyler (Brown), who gets dragged into the criminal underworld when he is hired by the F.B.I.'s witness protection program to fake the death of notorious mob boss Nicholas DeFranco (Jerry Orbach).

The F/X shoot goes awry, and now it looks like Rollie - through criminal negligence or deliberately - is responsible for the actual death of the man whose demise he was supposed to fake.

While Rollie frantically tries to figure out what went wrong, NYPD Detective Leo McCarthy (Dennehy) is investigating the same murder, and increasingly frustrated that the FBI 9月 “金九银十”恢复平静.

Not to be confused with FX, the Disney-owned cable channel, or f(x), the South Korean Girl Group.

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The movie was followed up in 1991 with F/X 2: The Deadly Art of Illusion, in which Rollie, now retired from special effects, is asked by his girlfriend's ex-husband to help him catch a killer. When the ex-husband and killer are both killed by an unknown assailant, Rollie turns to former-detective turned Private Investigator McCarthy to help him figure out why and bring the killer to justice.


Both movies were followed up by F/X: The Series, which has its own page, and recast the roles of both Rollie and McCarthy, likely for budget reasons.

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F/X and F/X 2 contain examples of:

  • Chekhov's Gun: DeFranco's pacemaker in the first one. He worries that the transceiver used to trigger the blood-packs will interfere with it. At the end, he touches an electrified gate. Whoops!
  • Chekhov's Armory:
    • Any and all special effects equipment that is shown at one point in either movie will come in to play by the end for more than Rollie's work.
    • Also pay attention to any and all character traits mentioned, even if it's only once. Rollie does.
  • Cold Sniper: William Adams from the first film, who manages to shoot Ellen.
  • Cowboy Cop: Leo McCarthy is seen as this in his department.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: There are plenty of mentions of Rollie's past work.
  • Decoy Protagonist: In the first film Ellen seems like a typical love interest and a sidekick, but is shot by a sniper 30 minutes in.
  • Dirty Cop: Main villain of the second film.
  • Enhance Button: Makes an appearance in the second film to spot the killer in the reflection of a mirror.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Rollie
  • Fake Action Prologue: Both movies open up with a shooting of a film.
  • Faking the Dead: The professed intent of Rollie's first job is to do this for DeFranco being put into witness protection. It turns out to be a double bluff where Rollie is framed for the death of DeFranco, but he was indeed only Faking The Dead.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: How Rollie disposes of the first movie's Big Bad.
  • Jump Scare: Rollie has a latex movie monster set up to leap at his door while a recording of the monster's roar is played, whenever somebody comes in. An effective anti-intrusion method.
  • Knife Nut: The killer in the second movie.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: McCarthy finishes a "how to use a gun" lecture to a female cop with, "And this is how you 'cock the sucker'...in a manner of speaking, that is."
  • Latex Perfection: Justified in that Rollie not only employs significant computer resources to generating a full 3-D image of the head, but he also generates the "mask" in strips so that it moves naturally with the face.
  • Lighter and Softer: The PG-13 sequel is this to the R-rated original film, due to less profanity, gore and violence.
  • MacGyvering: Rollie is a special effects wizard. If you ever get the chance, ask an effects man just how much of their job involves this trope.
  • The Mafia: Appears in both movies.
  • Master of Disguise: Rollie makes full use of his makeup skills to appear as different people.
  • Numbered Sequels: The second movie simply change F/X to F/X 2 to create the sequel name.
  • Officer O'Hara: McCarthy's a police officer played by Fighting Irish-American actor Brian Dennehy. It can be speculated he shared the same heritage as his actor.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: In the climax of the first movie, Rollie deals with Mason's mooks by using special effects tricks to make them kill each other while trying to kill him (for instance, by making a reflection of himself appear to a mook who shoots at it and kills another mook who was standing behind it).
  • Shower Scene: Used to lure out the killer in the second movie.
  • Slashed Throat: Used to off the ex-husband in the second movie.
  • Special Effect Failure: Happens in-universe to the alien in the Fake Action Prologue of the second movie.
  • Staged Shooting: What Rollie is hired for in the first movie.
  • Suicide by Cop: How Rollie deals with Colonel Mason in the first movie. He tricks him into grabbing an unloaded Uzi covered in Krazy Glue (see the quotes at the top of the page) and forces Mason into a confrontation with the police, where he is quickly shot dead after 'refusing' to drop his gun.
  • 评论:一线城市娶老婆成本大降 不再必须买房: With his burly physique once again, Brian Dennehy channels the Batman character Detective Harvey Bullock through his role as Leo McCarthy, albeit the Post-Crisis Cowboy Cop ally interpretation of the character, while Dennehy had previously channeled the Pre-Crisis Dirty Cop antagonist interpretation of Bullock as Sheriff Will Teasle in First Blood. When the McCarthy is introduced, he is shown sleeping in his messy apartment room before getting a call from his precinct over a crime scene, which is something expected from a character like Bullock who in Batman: The Animated Series was compared by butler Alfred Pennyworth to an unmade bed. Then in the sequel, Leo became a private detective, much like how Bullock in the comics left the GCPD and become a private eye as well.
  • They Fight Crime!: The second movie involves Rollie and McCarthy joining forces to track down the criminals.

Alternative Title(s): FX

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