This is quite a good movie, even though I remember it being started while the siege was still underway. The tension ratchets up throughout as we see Tim Daly do an excellent job as David Koresh ruling over his acolytes, alternately bullying and charismatic. He gives a convincing portrayal of a "sinful messiah" which certainly raised concerns in the straight-laced Baptist community of Waco, Texas. This is what initially attracted the attentions of various law enforcement agencies.
The interest of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is piqued, but never fully explained, as it is to this day. Both sides are then set on a course that ultimately leads to violence, leading up to the climactic attack of the Branch Davidian compound, which caps and concludes the movie. The siege and its fiery conclusion are not seen.
The movie doesn't portray Koresh as a frothing at the mouth religious fanatic but as a true believer in what he says. Thus, the viewer is left with the ambiguous feeling that he may not have deserved his fate. The ATF agents are never fleshed out and we don't feel any real sympathy for their deaths. We end up not totally understanding why this tragedy occurred, which is exactly how we felt then, as now.
Several up and comers appear in this film, including Neil McDonough (Band of Brothers and Medical Investigations) and NYPD Blue's Gordon Clapp. Lewis Smith is wasted as one of the slain ATF agents.
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