In the Line of Duty: The FBI Murders (1988) True Crime TV Movie Carnage

Bill Matix (Michael Gross) and Jerry Dove (Bruce Greenwood) had very different life choices. Whatever fate their decisions had mapped out for them, one thing was true, their paths were destined to cross. Jerry dreamt of joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI was his calling card, his life’s ambition. He would lovingly stare out to sea with the Miami vapour-waves casting a soft focus across his thoughtful face. When he snapped out of this spellbinding trance he’d race his labrador along the water’s edge and enjoy a sweet embrace reminiscent of best buddies, Rocky and Apollo. His dream was to come true.

In contrast, Bill Matix’ life couldn’t be further removed than the morally righteous and upstanding Jerry. Bill was bitter and twisted, psychotic and murderous. Worse still was his friend, Mike Platt (David Soul) who, somehow, was even more deranged. This angry man wore ridiculously too short cutoff jeans and hulked out at pinball machines. Each time he bent over that machine poor Bill got an eyeful that flashed backed the horror’s of working on a turkey farm in his youth. “For the love of god man, put some proper trousers on!” he whispered to himself.

Bill and Mike were insanely dangerous, violent and packed to the hilt with enough firepower to take down a small army. They were savage and ready to start a series of murders and robberies. Starting with the cold killing of young man just to steal his car. Without no real planning, they embark on a series of armoured car heists and bank payroll attacks. Dressed in military combat gear, heads covered with black balaclavas’ and armed to the teeth with semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and smoke grenades. They were relentless, soulless and wildly out of control.

Jerry Dove’s dream job had become a reality. Assigned a position with the FBI and getting to work directly with one of the most seasoned special agents on the force, Benjamin Grogan (Ronny Cox). As the robberies and body count grew across the state the Bureau stepped up their investigation. Soon all the pathways would align to one of the most violent episodes in the history of the FBI. A ridiculously stupid ill-advised shootout that would lead to numerous deaths and is said to have become a law enforcement training course of how not to do it! It would also become a turning point for the FBI and many police departments to upgrade to more effective firepower, after being outgunned and undertrained.

Tagline – It’s 1986 and a small, tranquil Florida town is being rocked by a wave of vicious serial murders.

This incident would be known as the 1986 FBI Miami Shootout. Reading the historic case after the film it really fathoms, beyond all believe, how these, truly despicable twosome, actually made it through to that fateful day at all. Especially when it transpires that both had very likely killed their wives in horrific ways, years prior, and somehow escape innocently. Then there’s the shootout, which is almost comical in design, the way they follow them, the actions they choose to take. Which in turn leads to this, almost unreal, close-up firefight. It’s shocking to see the aftermath of events because it just seemed such a rookie chain of mistakes, it looked unbelievable? Until you see the actual carnage of the real footage photography. They had played it out verbatim and it’s shocking to see.

In the Line of Duty: The FBI Murders (1988) was a made for television movie production. It sounds like it was the first of a series of 12 “In the Line of Duty” FBI, police and other emergency services, case studies. Nine of which were directed by Dick Lowry and starred many famous faces like Rod Steiger, Mario Van Peebles, Bruce Campbell and Dean Stockwell to name a few cast players. The films pan out as such, Blaze of Glory (1997), Smoke Jumpers (1996) Kidnapped (1995) Hunt for Justice (1995) The Price of Vengeance (1994) Ambush in Waco (1993) Street War (1992) Siege at Marion (1992) Manhunt in the Dakotas (1991) The Race for Gus Farace (1991) A Cop for the Killing (1990) and The FBI Murders (1988) possibly being the best out the bunch. Let me know if you seen any of the others. I’m pretty positive I’d seen Street War. Seem to recall it being released and billed as a Mario Van Peebles film vehicle in the video stores.

So is the film any good? It’s dated pretty badly. Feels like a late 70s production rather than late 80s. It popped up on Amazon Prime and caught my attention with the cast. Bruce Greenwood is always ace in whatever he appears in. Fan favourite Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) from the Tremors series is always a big delight, though not here I must quickly add. David Soul gets to rid his good guy Hutch persona and go superbad, once again. Plus you get sharp shooting Ronny Cox, just don’t break those glasses! DOH! Also the great Richard Jenkins fills up the excellent assembled cast. Watching these great actors work their way through a TV movie is great to see and if you can get past the slow build up, then the payoff is worth it. Just for that moment of realisation of that was FUBAR! if real… It was!

It looks like on a quick search that most of the 12 In the Line of Duty TV movies are on Youtube. Here’s The FBI Murders for starters.

Thanks for popping on by. Feel free to comment if you wanna but best of all thanks for reading.

Mikey Wolf