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This has to be one of the best made for TV movies that you are ever likely to see.
Based on the real life story of Platt & Matix ( played by David Soul & Michael Gross ) two murderous bank robbers operating in Dade County, Florida, this film is expertly crafted and maintains a gripping pace all the way through. Hollywood veteran Ronny Cox (Deliverance, RoboCop, Total Recall) brings a steely eyed brilliance to his role as Ben Grogan, head of the FBI unit charged with the apprehension of these bandits.
Soul and Grosse put in dynamite performances as the two violent and unstoppable villians, which was a total role reversal from the warm, friendly characters that they are both best known for on television. Amazingly, the film does not pull any punches when it comes to the vicious nature of the crimes committed by both of these men. The final gun battle involving the FBI and these two villians is well shot (no pun intended), powerful and gripping television.
Probably David Soul's best work ever... Michael Grosse is topnotch also...
This film was developed shortly after the true-life tale of these two
robbers ended in a mass of gunfire and death. The best thing about this
film is that it remains faithful to that true-life tale. Everything, down
to the meticulously choreographed final shootout, is done accurately (I have
also seen the FBI training film based on this event and the final sequence
here follows that training film to a "Tee").
The truth of the matter is, when you have true-to-life villains as ruthless as Soul and Grosse's characters, there is no need to embellish. This film is understated and cool. The FBI-side of the story is told through Ronnie Cox and Ben Sheehan analytically, without theatrics and flash. You still get the sense that the FBI wanted these killers off the streets ASAP and there is great tension as the violence continues while the FBI gets closer and closer.
If you get a chance, don't miss seeing this fine film!
I first saw this TV movies years ago, and was as intrigued as everybody
by the casting of David Soul and Michael Gross.
Although I haven't seen it for some years, and didn't know the name, I felt compelled to hunt it down on IMDB to make a comment. As well as being outstanding in the action sequences, particularly the ultimate shootout, it was particularly notable for portraying the wrongdoers as unsentimental killers. These murders live with one years after having seen the movie. The makers achieve this not by lingering over the badness of the villains, but by showing them dispatching their victims lightly, unhesitatingly.
Good, skillful movie.
Most people tend to look down their noses at made-for-network TV movies. In fact, a rap against some theatrical films is that it plays "like a made-for-TV film". IN THE LINE OF DUTY: THE FBI MURDERS should take a backseat to no movie: network, cable or theatrical. Based on an actual FBI case, FBI MURDERS chronicles the attempts of the Bureau to capture two men who were going on a spree of murder and robbery across Florida in 1986. Eight agents shot it out with the two men. By the time the smoke cleared, two agents were dead and six were wounded before the robbers were taken down. The action in this film can stand side-by-side with such shoot 'em ups as HEAT (which was a remake of a made-for-network movie: LA TAKEDOWN), BONNIE AND CLYDE and TAXI DRIVER. What may come as a surprise is the actor playing one of the robbers. While David Soul has portrayed men on both sides of the law, it is the shock of seeing Michael Gross, best known for playing the ultraliberal Stephen Keaton on FAMILY TIES as the most vicious of the two crooks. I had the opportunity to go back and look at new articles about this case, one of the news photos is used as a shot in the film. The makers of this really did their homework. It was a shame that FBI MURDERS did not receive any Emmy nominations. Maybe someone will do a theatrical remake of it and cop some Oscars. If it can happen with HEAT, it can happen to this movie.
Liberally based on true events surrounding a mid-80's F.B.I.
investigation and notorious apprehension attempt of a pair of
murderous, military-styled bank-robbers, IN THE LINE OF DUTY:
THE F.B.I. MURDERS (1988) is well-scripted, beautifully acted,
and superbly directed. The pacing and tension build up perfectly
as the two story-lines one involving the F.B.I. team diligently
working its way through the case, the other showing the harsh
criminal viewpoint mesh together with ever-tightening switch- ups until the dramatic and bloody climax. Nothing feels forced or
out of place, and nothing seems missing. Just solid story-telling
and top-notch drama from beginning to end.
It's largely the casting which plays such a huge role in determining
the quality of this picture, in my opinion. With screen veterans
Ronny Cox, as senior agent Ben "The Grinch" Grogan, and David
Soul, as the sadistically deadly robber Michael Lee Platt, you have
both sides of a very truthful and convincing acting team
represented. Add to that Bruce Greenwood, as the rookie agent,
his ex-"Knot's Landing" compatriot Doug Sheehan, as another
hard-driven and concerned field-agent, and a plethora of other
lesser-known but equally skilled actors and you have a solid cast.
But the most notable and electrifying performance turned in is in
the surprisingly cold and delivered performance by Michael Gross,
as fellow killer William Russell Matix. Here Gross completely
sheds the compassionate, intelligent and endearing character
traits so well-portrayed with his much-loved character Steven
Keaton on the TV series "Family Ties", and gives a completely
inner-defined and chilling turn as a contradictory bible-thumping/
womanizing, murderer and bank-robbing degenerate. Shocking
and terribly engaging all in one. The film pulls few punches with
regards to violence throughout the final "take-down" scene is
surely one of the most graphic and bloody ever shot for
mainstream audiences, even by today's standards I'd wager
but it never comes across as exploitive. The story is always the
main focus of the film and for THAT reason it succeeds; it's simply
a good, engaging story that needed to be told.
I first saw this made-for-TV movie on it's original network television
airing and was extremely impressed. Now, 15 years later, I still
hold it in high regard (with only the cars and the synth-driven
soundtrack music really adding any dating to the picture at all).
Unfortunately, IN THE LINE OF DUTY: THE F.B.I. MURDERS, has
long since been out-of-print on VHS, and rarely turns up on TV. For
those lucky enough to come across it I whole-heartedly
7/10. A made-for-TV movie that succeeds in being more!
The In The Line of Duty series stands out as excellent - I was fortunate enough to watch a police training tape that re-enacted the infamous shootout upon which this movie is based. The movie itself is well acted and directed. The shootout at the end is pretty amazing - in fact, it shows a real double-standard on the part of network television - they'll cut a theatrical film to death, but if it's made for TV, they'll spice it up as much as they want. You won't believe your eyes as Michael Gross (Family Ties) and half of Starsky and Hutch (David Soul), play vicious robbers, who are finally caught up with by FBI agents, and engage them in a bloody shootout. Gross and Soul take hit after hit before going down, and taking two agents with them. (This isn't theatrics, by the way. Those two men were adrenalized, and determined to get away. They really did take a lot of hits) The tactical mistakes made by the agents that day have reshaped police training forever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This true story of a armed team of robber/murders hunted by law enforcement which resulted in the most deadly shootout in FBI history and the most studied armed incident after the Kennedy assassination was well told and intense .Michael Lee Platt and William Matix seemed to have split personalities that the chemistry of the two of them together ignited into explosions of violence and murder .Both ex-military , high combat proficency and they practiced their marksmanship regularly , making for a particularly dangerous duo .Platt in particular was amazing I wouldn't want to go up against him , he seemed to be a born assassin . Add to that their kamikaze attitude and their attempted capture was ripe for disaster .The FBI only adds to this with bad decisions on site , before and during , however their motives were as lofty as they come .They were trying to protect the public . One wishes they were able to make better choices because they were good men (Grogan and Dove )but the film is intense and worth seeing , all the more so because most of it is true .
Finally out on DVD, fans of true crime dramas and action films will
really enjoy this 1988 made-for-television production. Based on actual
events in Miami, Florida (I'm not sure how embellished), "In the Line
of Duty: The FBI Murders concerns a pair of military trained bank-
robbers and the FBI task force who attempted to identify and apprehend
them. This is a far cry from the fictional movies that attempt to
glorify G-Men or violent criminals.
Both sides are portrayed in their real life bumbling glory as the robbers act stupidly and recklessly and the task force basically stumbles into them and is ill prepared for the confrontation. But this makes the story quite fascinating and if you connect with it you will probably want to watch it several times.
The film is structured as two parallel stories and what suspense there is stems from the viewers knowledge that the two stories will eventually intersect with each other, you just don't know how or when it will occur.
The strength of the film (besides its real life feel) is the characterization of the two robbers, played by David Soul and Michael Gross. Although their backgrounds are fragmentary, it appears that they bring out the worst in each other and their crime spree continues more for the adrenaline rush it provides. They begin to really get off on the violence and power, their crimes are almost random which tends to work in their favor as the investigation can find little logic or pattern behind their activities.
The film's weakness is the parallel story of the task force. This was a far cry from a cerebral Sherlock Holmes type investigation so you eagerly wait for them to cut back to Soul and Grace. The characterizations are generally shallow and weak so almost all viewers will end up identifying with the two criminals; even though they have a lot of mad dog qualities. Doug Sheehan is quite effective as the task force commander but Bruce Greenwood and Ronny Cox (rookie paired with veteran) are painful to watch.
The violent climax is worth waiting for, although the violence is in real time, the confrontation has the slow-mo feel of a Sam Peckinpah production.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
The first in a series of made for television movies, this is perhaps THE BEST. David Soul and Michael Gross play two "respectable" Floridians who set about murdering others and robbing banks. Their exploits come to the attention of the FBI who pursue them in true J Edgar Hoover type fashion. The climatic gun battle is not to be missed. Though toned down considerably for TV, it would rival the shoot out in the movie HEAT. Strongly recommended.
This is the best, or one of the best made for TV movies I've seen. Along with enjoying the movie, I was really moved by some of it's somber moments. It's total suspense, excellent action, and some incredible shoot out scenes. Everyone who enjoys cops and robber movies will really be engrossed in this high suspense thriller.
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