In the Line of Duty: The F.B.I. Murders (TV Movie 1988) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
20 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Great All Around TV Movie-One of the Top 10 of All Time
LAKERS343 August 2004
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!
15 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Gripping, tightly scripted and well acted. A true story of murderous mayhem.
Batjac - 4926 March 2000
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.
15 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Excellent, chilling movie
kevin2721 January 2004
I first saw this TV movies years ago, and was as intrigued as everybody else 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.
14 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The absolute best made-for-network TV movie of all-time
Tresix20 December 1999
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.
14 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Above-Line TV Movie
Squrpleboy12 October 2003
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

recommend it.

7/10. A made-for-TV movie that succeeds in being more!
10 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
mikelcat21 March 2008
Warning: 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 .
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This is truly the best TV Movie I have ever seen
arthurclay24 December 2005
An explosive and completely true account of the most horrific shootout between criminals and federal law enforcement in U.S. history. It is the story of Bill Mattix and Mike Platt, two former Army Rangers and ordinary blue collar guys who have families, raise kids, and pay their taxes. They also rob armored cars and shoot people for a living. And they are damn good at it. They kill people about as routinely as mowing their lawns with absolutely no remorse or second thought as to the consequences of their actions. Their exploits attract the attention of the Miami F.B.I. field office who become more and more interested in finding out who they are. The agents quickly become obsessed with stopping them before they rob and kill again. It sets the scene for the eventual showdown and the carnage that ensues when they try to corner the robbers. This one is hard to find but it is a great insight into the minds of two bank robbers and the FBI agents who hunted them.
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An Excellent TV Movie....
BOB AUDET12 November 1999
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.
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Finally Out On DVD
aimless-4628 January 2007
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.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Very good made for tv film
LuvsFood5 April 1999
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.
9 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Top Shelf True Crime Thriller
Chase_Witherspoon6 July 2010
Super-charged TV movie concerning two Vietnam veterans (Soul and Gross) who embark on a ruthless and progressively more violent spate of armed robberies. As their heists become increasingly more murderous and brazen, the FBI's finest (principally portrayed by Cox, Sheehan and Greenwood) struggle to subdue the carnage. The cat and mouse game finally comes to a rousing climax when the fugitives are cornered in a car chase, and a bloody shootout ensues.

Watching this intense, suspenseful and shocking feature, you easily forget its TV movie constraints; nothing is inhibited by the TV scale. Characters are well drawn and given appropriate depth, and the action sequences are realistic and well staged. Directory Lowry shows his adept handling of the content, conjuring a pair of the most ruthless, frightening villains ever conceived. Gross completely dispenses the shackles of his (at the time) amiable alter-ego from "Family Ties", as a cold-blooded misogynistic, religious zealot, while Soul is devastating in a dichotomous characterisation - warm and sociable with his family and friends, and a total psychopath in balaclava and fatigues. Daring casting against type that succeeds.

Doug Sheehan is workmanlike in his performance as the central FBI guy, while Ronny Cox as the revered agent nearing retirement adds a significant prestige to the ranks. Bruce Greenwood's star has risen since this feature, and his portrayal of the young newcomer is played with conviction. Based on true events, director Lowry manages the pace for an outstanding climax of Sam Peckinpah proportions. Exceptional TV movie highly recommended for anyone remotely interested in the true crime genre.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Top notch thriller from a made for TV movie.
Tom Smith19 February 2004
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.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Edge of seat viewing
ramblinjack121 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The true 1985/86 Dade County, Florida account of two ex-Army buddies, William Russell Matix and Michael Lee Platt and their twisted "my way or the highway" attitudes against the local FBI Bureau (Miami Division). Matix and Platt discover there is more than one way to 'play Army' and become the most aggressive bank / armored car robbers that ever packed heat since Bonnie Parker psychologically nailed Clyde Barrow's manhood to a Thompson drum magazine! The Bureau, after an exhaustive investigation, finally I-D the pair and make plans to apprehend them 'by the book'. Unfortunately the 'book' hasn't been updated since J. Edgar Hoover got fitted for his burial culottes!

What transpires is the most intense TV movie crime drama ever put to film. Some claim this is the "greatest TV movie ever made". The steady, 100% believable build-up to the final 'shock and awe' shootout will have you transfixed in the knowledge that this actually went down and there wasn't a darn thing that could have stopped it, at the time. The FBI suffered the most devastating losses in the bureaus' history with only two dead scum-bags to show for it. The case has been a textbook study guide within the bureau ever since.

Michael (Family Ties) Gross and David (Starky & Hutch) Soul as the suburban-psycho-punks go totally against type casting to deliver mesmerizing Emmy winning caliber roles (they didn't). If you consider the helicopter scene in Goodfellas brilliant this film's climax is simply a must see.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Ahead of its time...
mcdougallgreg29 January 2007
The FBI Murders is a made-for-TV film that really surprised me. The acting ranges from good to excellent. No one in this film did a poor job portraying their characters. Ronny Cox and David Soul are the stand-out performances here.

The shoot-out in the end is quite graphic for TV standards. There were a few moments in the shoot-out where I was wondering how this film made it onto network television. And this was in the late 80's, way before shows like "The X-Files" and "ER" started to push the limits of graphic bloodletting. The climactic confrontation certainly isn't gratuitous, but it doesn't shy away from showing a little blood (as would be expected when shotguns, sub machine guns, and a dozen pistols are going off).

The film isn't perfect though. There are a few times where it feels like this was filmed in the early 80's. Shaky aerial shots support this noticeable flaw. It's hard to explain, but see it and you'll know what I mean. And the music is, at times, a little chintzy. Synthesizers in the 80's usually never helped a film to age well and it certainly shows in this case. Still, this did not detract too much from my satisfying viewing experience.

All-in-all though, highly recommended.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Very well done
Wizard-831 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I somehow more or less missed the news reports of this case when it first hit the headlines more than twenty years ago. But I have a feeling that this movie reasonably (at least) recreates what happened, since this movie got the cooperation of the real FBI. And what it portrays is pretty chilling. The two criminals are real nasty pieces of work, and their various crimes are depicted in a way that I don't think any viewer will find "fun". Murder in this movie is shown to be really awful, and the climatic shootout is filled with characters in a great deal of pain and dying in front of our eyes. While the movie is almost twenty-five years old, it really hasn't dated that much, except for a few minor details like gigantic cell phones. And it's available on DVD, so it should be easy to track down a copy of this must-see movie.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
brutal and tragic true story
disdressed1218 March 2009
this TV movie is based on a real incident involving a bloody shootout between the FBI and two murderous cold blooded bank robbers/killers.most of the movie is about events leading up to this point,with the Bureau at a loss as to who the killer are.when they eventually find out,they track the men,which ends up in the bloody shootout between the feds and the criminals.this incident is now used as a training model for future operations.unfortunately the FBI were undermanned out gunned and unprepared,and so made a lot of mistakes.the movie is well acted,gripping and adrenaline pumping,and very brutal and's well done,but hard to watch,particularly the the last fifteen minutes or so,which is the shootout.i can't give this movie a rating,because it's not that kind of movie.if you do watch it,be prepared for the brutal violence.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The best TV movie of all time!
Joxerlives26 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
SUCH a good film, could have easily earned a theatrical release. For a generation raised on David Soul as Detective Ken Hutchinson on Starsky and Hutch it really is a revelation to see him here as such a brutal villain (although having seen him as the vigilante police officer in 'Magnum Force' you realise his range extends far beyond clean cut heroes). Soul really dominates this film even with noted character actor Ronny Cox who was enjoying an excellent run at this stage of his career with his appearances in 'Robocop' and 'Total Recall'.

I think what makes Platt and Matix so terrifying is their very ordinariness, both family men with no criminal record, both ex-soldiers with honourable discharges. Yet they were two of the most ruthless and violent criminals ever to be encountered. The final shootout is very accurate and thrilling, so well directed and acted by all. There are a few discrepancies from real life, the Miami police arrived sooner and helped protect one of the wounded agents, whilst Platt certainly did fire on Ed Moraless with his handgun it is disputed whether he got out of the car to do so. Terrific music too conveying the drama and excitement and also the poignancy of events depicted.

Looking back now you can see all the mistakes the FBI made, not in their investigation which was flawless but in the final confrontation, they took on 2 men whom they knew were combat trained and armed with assault rifles with most of their agents just armed with pistols and one shotgun, only one of whom was wearing body armour. Nowadays many people criticize SWAT operations as over the top but they were developed partly as a result of this shootout.

I think what really makes this stand out is the final sequence, the last zoom in on Matix's drivers licence and the voice-over informing us of the aftermath and unanswered questions surrounding the case never fails to chill the blood. The tribute at the end to Jerry Dove and Ben Grogan is always moving, giving their lives in the line of duty.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Battlefield As A Test Of Excellence.
Robert J. Maxwell1 February 2016
Miami in the 80s. This better-than-average television movie first introduces us to the half dozen members of the FBI team that will figure prominently in the shoot out. They are all happy and adjusted. Their modern houses are as neat and clean as an operating theater. One of them, Bruce Greenwood, sings a happy song while getting dressed at six in the morning after a run on the beach. His comely wife smooches him but there's no time because he must be off to work, snapping a round into the chamber and holstering his Glock. They're all that way -- kidding one another about their weight, playing grabass. They go to church bake sales. I haven't been that happy at six in the morning since I discovered puberty. Maybe it's time to join the FBI.

Gradually we meet the bad guys, who may give the most credible performances in the film. They have sloppy back yards, lie to their wives, and play dirty pool when they conduct business. Michael Gross is the more relaxed of the two -- his expression a cross between a smile and a leer. David Soul is less stable. Gee, the guy has a terrible temper, kicking around some defective goods he's just bought, throwing bottles against the wall. The most memorable feature of this duo is that they are absolutely fearless and ruthless. Apparently they ride around armed and wearing camos LOOKING for armored cars or anything else to rob. When balked, Soul deliberately kills an innocent bystander. "Well, we didn't get anything," remarks Gross. "I did," says Soul.

They're hypocrites too. Gross gives a phony spiel in church about having buried his daughter so he can hustle young ladies. He tells his pregnant girl friend, "You disgust me," then kicks her out. The victim, Becky Ann Baker, has a small role but she delivers. The surprising element of the script is that it shows us David Soul in an apparently happy marriage, teaching his son some basketball moves with obvious proprietary affection. It must have been tempting to edit the brief scene out -- draw a clear dividing line between good and evil -- but it would have cheapened the movie.

The miscreant duo become more bold and reckless until a confrontation in a residential area. The battle is persuasively presented and it winds up rather like a slaughterhouse with two agents and both armed robbers dead.

Of the two adversaries, the robbers are the more interesting. Law enforcement was doing it's job but for Gross and Soul it had turned into a witting way of life. Neither had ever been charged with a crime before and there was no evidence that they'd ever been violent. Yet here they are, carrying deadly automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition, two men courageously shooting it out with a dozen FBI agents on a quiet palm-lined street. Both men struggled on despite multiple bullet holes. Mortally wounded, Soul drags himself from car to car, shooting the agents who have already been downed.

What he and Gross did would have earned them decorations had they done it on a battlefield in service of their country. Instead they chose to display their bravery and their willingness to fight to the last breath somewhere in Dade County, Florida. We treasure values like that but only when they are subject to the control of the state. No individual entrepreneurs.

It's exceptional for a TV movie, in the script, in the direction, and in the performances.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Actor list incomplete?
aquashark3313 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I own this DVD. I have watched this movie countless times over the years. I can remember watching this film as it aired 'live' for the first time on TV. I immediately knew it would be a favorite of mine for years to come. Upon researching the actors in the film, I noticed an actor had not been mentioned. At least- I believe it to be this actor. I was wondering if anyone would confirm this. Towards the end of the film, when Gross's character and his girlfriend Vickie are in the restaurant, and Gross's character mentions it may be his last 'hit', his character grabs Vickie's arm. On the other side are patrons of the restaurant- one of whom I believe is Kevin Sorbo. Am I correct? There are no credits for him.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
NBC anti -gun propaganda
eastokie2 April 2017
while this makes for good entertainment, its far from being a actual, factual event,some of the forensic evidence didn't match up with the FBI agents statements as to what happened,,this is not unusual..given being in a shootout,the agents were not out manned ,8 agents to 2 felons, they were out gunned but that was the agents fault, they were in FBI headquarters waiting ,in the arms locker were mp5 9mm submachine guns, m16 machine guns, and heavy armoured vests,none of which they took with them, despite knowing that the 2 felons had a rifle and a shotgun,,but most disturbing is the fact that the mini-14 used by the robbers was NOT a machine gun, as shown by NBC,, plenty of time passed so NBC did know that fact, but put a machine gun in the criminals hands, which didn't happen,this was common back then , when NBC did these in line of fire TV movies,NBC took every opportunity to put any kind of anti-gun message on screen ,regardless of the truth..
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews