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


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In the Line of Duty: The F.B.I. Murders Movie Reviews

Finally Out On DVD

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 absolute best made-for-network TV movie of all-time

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.

This is truly the best TV Movie I have ever seen

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.