44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out

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44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out
US Poster
Written by Tim Metcalfe
Directed by Yves Simoneau
Starring Michael Madsen
Ron Livingston
Theme music composer George S. Clinton
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Gerald W. AbramsMichael R. Goldstein
Robert Port
Producer(s) Daniel Schneider
Cinematography David Franco
Editor(s) William B. Stich
Running time 103 minutes
Production company(s) Cypress Point Productions
Mopo Entertainment
20th Century Fox Television
Distributor Fox Television Studios
Original network FX
Original release
  • June 5, 2003 (2003-06-05)

44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out is a 2003 American made-for-television crime film directed by Yves Simoneau. The film premiered on the FX Network in June 2003. It is based on the 1997 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 LAPD.

On the morning of February 28, 1997, police officers get ready for work, while Phillips and Mătăsăreanu prepare to loot an armored bank truck. Meanwhile, SWAT officer Donnie Anderson (Ron Livingston) is mourning the death of his father, who was a policeman for over 31 years. He displays a lack of coordination with his unit during a raid on an apartment building, which almost causes one of his team members to be left alone with suspects, and is forced by his superior to take time off. Meanwhile, Phillips and Mătăsăreanu park outside the North Hollywood branch of Bank of America and wait for the armored truck to arrive. They are frustrated when the truck does not turn up and decide on robbing the bank instead. Donning black masks and homemade body armor, they enter the branch, firing at the roof with AK-47s. At the same time, an LAPD patrol car passes by and the officers observe the robbers entering the bank and call in a 211 for an armed robbery.

Phillips and Mătăsăreanu force the manager to open the vault and fill a duffel bag with all of the cash in the branch. While Mătăsăreanu has his back turned, the manager places a stack of notes rigged with a dye pack. With other officers arriving and setting up positions surrounding the bank, Phillips is shocked to see dozens of them and decides to walk outside, firing at them with his AK-47 and quickly being joined by Mătăsăreanu. The officers are heavily outgunned in the shootout. Anderson listens to the call on his radio, gathers his SWAT team, and races to the bank. After several minutes of firing and injuring both officers and civilians, Phillips and Mătăsăreanu decide to make a getaway. Mătăsăreanu drives their car while Phillips walks beside it and provides cover fire.

On Archwood Street, Phillips separates from Mătăsăreanu and starts firing randomly at the pursuing officers. While reloading, Phillips' AK-47 jams, and he is unable to clear it. He draws a pistol. Raising the finger, he continues firing at the officers. Then, he turns the pistol on himself, shooting himself under the chin while being simultaneously shot by McGregor. Meanwhile, Mătăsăreanu carjacks a pickup truck but is unable to start the engine since the driver disabled the fuel tanks before fleeing. The SWAT team arrives and corners Mătăsăreanu, who then takes cover behind his car, and a close-range gunfight ensues. The SWAT team eventually fires below the cars at Mătăsăreanu's legs; Mătăsăreanu is repeatedly hit in the feet and legs. Severely wounded, he drops his weapon and surrenders. It is later revealed that he dies of his gunshot wounds at the 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 up immensely due to their handling of the shootout. 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. 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.

Differences in real-life and movie[edit]

Hollywood re-tellings of real-life events have fictionalized narratives which take many creative liberties, such as changing or conflating events and shifting their timing, including altering of names for protection.

  • Mătăsăreanu's converted AR-15 has a full-length barrel, in real life, it was shortened.
  • The physical appearances of the robbers were swapped
  • Emil Mătăsăreanu hijacks a pickup truck when his getaway vehicle is rendered inoperative after gunshots in both real life and film. The movie depicts his inability to operate the truck due to the owner disabling the fuel pump wherein the real Mătăsăreanu was unable to operate the truck due to his unfamiliarity of manual transmission driving. His death however, remains the same.
  • Phillips' death in the film remains the same in real life wherein he shot himself in his chin. Omitted from his death in the movie are his being shot in the hand and the police firing at him as his body fell. The addition of McGregor shooting him simultaneously as Phillips's commits suicide as well as omissions of police shooting him while he lay dead, makes Phillips' death different from the real incident.
  • Mătăsăreanu is depicted as having a strong Eastern European accent. In real life his family moved from Romania to the United States when he was very young, and he had developed an American accent by the time he was an adult.

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. Archived from the original on 2009-06-19. 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.

External links[edit]