Taglines: Special effetcs are his life…and his death?
Roland “Rollie” Tyler is hired by the Justice Department to stage the murder of mob informant Nicholas DeFranco. DeFranco is set to testify against his former Mafia bosses and go into witness protection, but the Justice Department is afraid he will be killed before the trial. Tyler rigs a gun with blanks and fixes DeFranco up with radio transmitters and fake blood packs to simulate bullet hits. The Justice Department supervisor on the case, Edward Mason, asks Tyler to be the “assassin” wearing a disguise. He is paid $30,000 and assured by Mason that he is “100% protected”.
DeFranco wears Tyler’s rig to an Italian restaurant and the public “assassination” goes flawlessly. When Tyler is picked up by the Justice agent in charge, Lipton, the agent tries to shoot him. In the struggle for Lipton’s gun, the driver is killed and the car crashes, allowing Tyler to escape. He contacts Mason, who instructs him to wait for other agents to take him to a safe location. Another man thought to be Tyler is killed by the agents and he retreats to his girlfriend Ellen’s apartment. In the morning, Ellen is shot and killed by a sniper aiming for Tyler. Tyler kills the sniper after a fight when he enters the apartment to finish the job.
Manhattan homicide detective Leo McCarthy becomes interested in the case because he has been pursuing DeFranco for years. He discovers that the assassination was faked and that Mason planned it. When he is suspended by his captain for his reckless methods, McCarthy manages to steal his boss’s badge and gun.
Using an elaborate phone prank, Tyler brings Lipton out in the open and kidnaps him in his official car. He stuffs Lipton into the trunk and takes him on a rough ride to get Mason’s address out of him, believing that DeFranco is hiding there. Tyler steals back his impounded van with the help of his assistant and escapes following a chase through Lower Manhattan with McCarthy’s partner. Tyler goes to Mason’s mansion where, using his special effects expertise, he kills Mason’s guards. McCarthy arrives and seeing two dead guards at the gate, he alerts the State Police.
F/X (also known as or subtitled Murder by Illusion) is a 1986 American action-thriller film directed by Robert Mandel, written by Gregory Fleeman and Robert T. Megginson, and starring Bryan Brown, Brian Dennehy, Diane Venora, and Cliff De Young.
The film follows an expert (Brown) in the art of special effects (F/X) with a reputation built by his work on many low-budget hack-and-slash films such as I Dismember Mama. The Department of Justice hires him to stage the murder of a gangster about to enter the Witness Protection Program. He agrees, but then things get complicated. Meanwhile, a New York City police detective (Dennehy) is investigating the faked murder and cannot understand why the Justice Department is even less helpful than usual.
F/X – Murder by Illusion (1986)
Directed by: Robert Mandel
Starring: Bryan Brown, Brian Dennehy, Diane Venora, Cliff De Young, Mason Adams, Martha Gehman, Roscoe Orman, Trey Wilson, Jossie DeGuzman
Screenplay by: Robert T. Megginson, Gregory Fleeman
Production Design by: Mel Bourne
Cinematography by: Miroslav Ondrícek
Film Editing by: Terry Rawlings
Costume Design by: Julie Weiss
Set Decoration by: Steven J. Jordan
Art Direction by: Speed Hopkins, Hilda Stark
Music by: Bill Conti
Distributed by: Orion Pictures
Release Date: February 7, 1986