44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out

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44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out
US Poster
Distributed by Fox Television Studios
Directed by Yves Simoneau
Produced by Michael R. Goldstein
Written by Tim Metcalfe
Starring Michael Madsen
Ron Livingston
Music by George S. Clinton
Country United States
Language English
Release date
  • June 5, 2003 (2003-06-05)
Running time 103 minutes

44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out is a 2003 American film directed by Yves Simoneau. The film premiered on the FX Network in June 2003.


The plot, about bank robbers held at bay by the Los Angeles Police Department, is based on a real incident which occurred February 28, 1997 known as the North Hollywood shootout. Homicide detective Frank McGregor (Michael Madsen) tracks a violent duo of bank robbers: Larry Eugene Phillips, Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu who were named the High Incident Bandits by the L.A.P.D.

The film opens with scenes of police officers getting ready for work in the morning interspersed with scenes of the robbers Phillips and Mătăsăreanu preparing to loot an armoured bank truck. Meanwhile, SWAT Officer Donnie Anderson (Ron Livingston) is mourning the death of his father, who was also a policeman for over 31 years. Not soon afterward, Anderson displays a lack of coordination with members of his assignment during a raid on an apartment building which almost cause one of his team members to be left alone with a few suspects, and is forced by his superior to take time off. Meanwhile, the staff at the North Hollywood branch of Bank of America are preparing for start of business.

Phillips and Mătăsăreanu park outside the branch and wait for the armored truck. They are frustrated when the truck does not turn up and decide on robbing the bank instead (unaware that the bank had altered its delivery schedule). They wear black masks and enter the branch firing at the roof with their AK-47s. At the same time, an LAPD patrol car happens to be passing by and the officers observe the robbers entering the bank and call in a 211 for an armed robbery.

After entering the bank, Phillips and Mătăsăreanu fired multiple rounds to frighten the customers and they forced the manager to open the vault and fill a duffel bag with all the cash in the branch. While Mătăsăreanu has his back turned, preoccupied with scouring the vault for further sources of cash, the manager places a stack of notes rigged with a dye-dispersing proximity-triggered explosive. With all the officers arriving and set up positions surrounding the Bank, Phillips was shocked to see dozen of officers after looking through a window and decides to move out. Upon exiting the Bank, officers from outside shouted at them to drop their weapons. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu decided to start a gun-battle with the police.

The officers are heavily outgunned. The two gunmen are equipped with AK-47s with drum magazines that fire armor piercing rounds and are covered head-to-toe in heavy body armor. With the officers wearing only Kevlar, which is meant to deflect small arms fire, and are armed only with Beretta 92FS's. Anderson listens to the call on his radio, gathers his SWAT team and races to the shoot-out location. After several minutes of firing and infliction of injuries to both officers and civilians, Phillips and Mătăsăreanu decide to make a getaway. Mătăsăreanu drives their car while Phillips walks beside the car and provides cover fire.

On Archwood Street, Phillips separates from Mătăsăreanu and starts firing at the pursuing officers. While reloading, Phillips' AK-47 jams, and he is unable to clear it. Phillips draws his pistol, a Beretta M9, and begins firing on the officers while giving them the finger. It is moments later that Phillips, knowing he is trapped, turns his pistol on himself, just as Frank prepares to take the headshot at him. Both fire their weapons at exactly the same time, with Phillips firing a single shot through his chin, which exits the top of his skull.

Mătăsăreanu notices Phillips' body moments later and mourns and curses in Romanian, noting how he told Larry numerous times to get in the car to make things simple. Before other officers moved on to his location he then carjacks a Jeep Gladiator pickup truck after the tires on his getaway car are shot out. However, he is unable to start the truck since the driver disabled the fuel pump just before exiting the vehicle and fleeing. The SWAT team arrives race towards and corners Mătăsăreanu, who then takes cover behind his car. A close-range gun battle ensues. The SWAT team fires below the cars at Mătăsăreanu's legs since they are practically the only portions of his body not protected by body amor. Anderson finds a clean shot and takes it, hitting Mătăsăreanu in the feet and then legs numerous times. After several shots pass through his body, Mătăsăreanu drops his weapon and surrenders, slamming on the hood of his car in frustration before collapsing to the ground. It is later revealed that he bleeds to death on scene before paramedics can arrive.

The ending notes how the aftermath of the shootout proved to be a miracle, with no civilian or police deaths. It also notes how public opinion of the LAPD went from staggering lows to a praise-filled high. Actual footage is shown of LAPD officers receiving medals of valor and the public sending them thank-you notes and flowers in appreciation of their heroic efforts. Frank McGregor closes by noting in an interview that "in 44 minutes of sheer terror, not one officer ran away. Everyone did their job, and I think that means something."



The building in the real robbery was in North Hollywood, but the building used for the bank in the film was a vacant bank in a strip mall in La Habra, California. All of the scenes that are on the residential streets where the robbers fled were filmed on the actual locations.


The real gunmen also were nicknamed the 'High Incident Bandits' and the shootout was also the basis for the final episode of the 1996-1997 ABC-TV police drama High Incident. The episode, "Shootout", takes place in the parking lot of an empty building, which serves as "El Camino City Bank" in the fictional suburb of El Camino. Surrounding Valley neighborhoods are used to film scenes in which officers hunt down fleeing robbers.

In 44 Minutes, Mătăsăreanu's converted AR-15 has a full-length barrel, in real life, it was shortened.

In popular culture[edit]

"44 Minutes" is a song by the American thrash metal band Megadeth, which appears on their twelfth studio album, titled Endgame, which was released on September 15, 2009, written by frontman Dave Mustaine.[1] The third song on the album, the song's lyrics portray the events of the North Hollywood shootout, that occurred in the North Hollywood district of Los Angeles on February 28, 1997.[2][3][4] Though never released as a single from the album, the song has been played live by the band on several occasions.[5] The name is derived directly from this film.


  1. ^ "Popmatters' Engame review". Popmatters. Retrieved September 29, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Megadeth – 44 Minutes (4:36)". Lastfm. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  3. ^ "MEGADETH Fan Club Members Get Taste Of Forthcoming Album". Blabbermouth.net. 2009-06-09. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  4. ^ Various. "44 Minutes Songfacts". Songfacts. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  5. ^ Jim Murphy (2009-12-08). "Megadeth plays 44 Minutes live". Thesavagescience.com. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 

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