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A movie special effects man is hired to fake a real-life mob killing for a witness protection plan, but finds his own life in danger.


Robert Mandel

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1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Bryan Brown ... Roland 'Rollie' Tyler
Brian Dennehy ... Lt. Leo McCarthy
Diane Venora ... Ellen Keith
Cliff De Young ... Martin Lipton
Mason Adams ... Col. Mason
Jerry Orbach ... Nicholas DeFranco
Joe Grifasi ... Mickey
Martha Gehman ... Andy
Roscoe Orman ... Capt. Jake Wallenger
Trey Wilson ... Lt. Murdoch
Tom Noonan ... Varrick
Paul D'Amato ... Gallagher
Jossie DeGuzman Jossie DeGuzman ... Marisa Velez (as Jossie deGuzman)
Jean De Baer Jean De Baer ... Whitemore
M'el Dowd M'el Dowd ... Joyce Lehman (Miss Lehman) (as M'eL Dowd)


A movies special effects man is hired by a government agency to help stage the assassination of a well known gangster. When the agency double crosses him, he uses his special effects to trap the gangster and the corrupt agents. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Special effetcs are his life...and his death? See more »


Action | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

7 February 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

F/X - Murder by Illusion See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,240,695, 9 February 1986, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Rollie is ambushed in the back seat of a car, the vehicle crashes through a billboard that has posters for the Code of Silence (1985). Orion Pictures, who made F/X (1986), also made that film. See more »


When Tyler is setting up the booby-traps upstairs at the mansion, note that the brass item that has the 'noise maker' changes shapes. See more »


[first lines]
The director: Cut! Cut! Cut! Cut! Cut! Cut! Cut! Cut! Great. Great. Great. We got it. Great. You ladies alright? What about you? You okay?
Rollie Tyler: Ellen, come on out of there.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Just at the start of the end credits, the camera flashes briefly through out-take type shots of the eight principal players (Bryan Brown, Brian Dennehy, Diane Venora, Cliff De Young, Mason Adams, Jerry Orbach, Martha Gehman, and Joe Grifasi). Each actor smiles out-of-character at the camera as though in appreciation to the audience of their performances. See more »

Alternate Versions

The Australian VHS and television version open with a different title logo. Instead of the domestic gray title card, it has the words F/X, in red on a black background. The letters then glow bright and fade out. See more »


References The Godfather (1972) See more »


Performed by Huey Lewis & The News (as Huey Lewis and The News)
Written by Johnny Colla (as J. Colla) and Huey Lewis
Courtesy of Chrysalis Records Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

FX before they were giving 'everything' away...
6 February 2007 | by buzznzipp1995See all my reviews

Here is an eighties hit, of a great time. Man this 'story' has a lot! Two Brians, a Diane Venora, who is unconditionally into her roles, she really puts talent into her characters. Even when her 'Ellen', Rollie's friend was cut short. Rollie Tyler, is the man for special effects. He is smart and can set up the 'Set-up' with moderate to no trouble. Then comes the Wit-Sec Program people with a simple request. Put together a murder in a restaurant that would seem real. To get the Mob, off of this mobster in Wit-Sec's Back. Jerry Orbach, Nick DeFranco is the man who needs a 'Pardon' from his past. Rollie even after some thought thinks he can pull-it-off, so to speak. This is the beginning of Rollies troubles. I don't recall Orbach in a lot of tough or badguy roles, but I liked him as the wise-cracking 'wise guy'. Entering into the party mess, Leo (Dennehy) an aggressive New York cop, who doesn't like no for an answer and he doesn't like tricks. He is now on the case of the trick master. (Mason Adams) Col. Mason was quite an inter agency man. I had never seen Adams in a role like this and he creates more intrigue. His assistant and partner 'Lipton' (Cliff De Young) was a sort of trick inter agency man as well. Plays dumb really well, all the while watching everything and everyone, like a crocodile. The ending of this was a surprise as well for me and then as the closing scenes were being shown, they played the best song, I can't find it anywhere anymore. One of those superb 1980's films with a perfect wrap-up. Beautiful scenery and that 'tall' looking cinema scope effect at the movie's ending.

I recommend to those who like action, mystery and the 80's too. This is a thrill of a great time for me. (****)

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