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Larry Phillips Jr. & Emil Mătăsăreanu (the High Incident Bandits) are the co-main antagonists of the film 44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out, based on the actual shootout of the same name. They are violent bank robbers who attempted to pull a robbery at a bank before they were confronted by LAPD officers, and thus engaging in a shootout with them using their destructive AK47 assault rifles originally designed for war.
They are portrayed by Andrew Bryniarski (Phillips Jr.) and Oleg Taktarov (Mătăsăreanu).
As told by Detective Frank McGregor, the High Incident Bandits, so called for their use of heavy weaponry in their bank robberies, murdered one security guard years before the event that took place. They were jailed for their robberies in addition to the murder, but were quickly let go, and even had their weapons returned to them.
Role in film
Larry Phillips Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu were in their house and packing their bags with their AK47 machine guns and armor piercing bullets in the early morning of February 28, 1997. The also dressed in homemade bulletproof vests that were designed to protect them from standard caliber bullets. They got into their car and drove straight to a bank in North Hollywood, California, a district in Los Angeles. The robbers were waiting patiently in their car with Mătăsăreanu checking his watch and timing the arrival of an armored car. However, the armored car they were expecting to arrive drove past the bank, upsetting them both.
So they changed their motive, and decided to go into the bank and take the money themselves even though it wasn't part of the initial plan. They each took three pills to calm their nerves before entering. Phillips Jr. parked the car in front of the bank and they both proceeded to commit a robbery.
However, just from afar and before they entered the bank, an LAPD squad car drove past the bank and officers saw the robbers going inside. He immediately dispatched for backup that a possible robbery was in progress. A witness who was walking her dog also saw them going in.
As they got in, Philips Jr. fired his assault rifle bullets into the ceiling and told everyone in the bank to get down. Mătăsăreanu took a turn next and started shooting at the walls and breaking picture portraits. Next, they broke into the room where the vault was located and demanded the teller to open the vault. Phillips Jr. covered the room while his partner dealt with the rest. However, he was being hesitant, infuriating Mătăsăreanu who threatened to shoot him. The teller stuffed all the money in the bag as he was told and when Mătăsăreanu looked away for a moment, he stuffed a special stash of money designed to explode if it left far enough from the bank. Asking if there was anymore money, the teller played along and said they didn't have much money left because of recent robberies.
There was one more safe the robbers needed to open, however, no employee of the bank would be able to open it; only an armored car guard would have access to the safe. Mătăsăreanu ignored his statement and started shooting at the safe, which was bulletproof even to his armour piercing bullets. Phillips Jr. lost his patience and told Mătăsăreanu the cops have arrived and surrounded the building. Before heading outside, they ordered all the people at the bank into the vault, including the teller. They both stepped outside and they were quickly told to surrender and drop their weapons.
Phillips Jr. started to shoot at the police with his AK47 and Mătăsăreanu quickly followed. One of them shot a woman, the same woman that saw them go into the bank earlier and some of their bullets went even as far as a dentist across from the bank. The bank robbers' bullets also obliterated a keysmith post entry near the bank. The police responded back by firing their guns back at them, but thanks to their bulletproof vests, did not stop them from shooting in any way. The robbers were also able to hit a police officer from afar, shooting his leg.
A pedestrian got hit by oncoming bullets, when Phillips Jr. and Mătăsăreanu took a second to reload, one officer, Henry Jones, risked his life to save him. But Phillips Jr. saw him running and took two shots at Henry, on his arm and leg. After covering near a tree, Henry took a couple of shots at the robbers, who fired back, but none were able to hit him. The robbers continued firing for a few more minutes, hitting another pedestrian through a wall, before walking back into the bank.
They decide to hatch a plan to escape from the scene by using their guns to emit a ton of chaos in the area and prevent the cops from catching up to them. Mătăsăreanu says if they separate, he will see Phillips Jr. at the safehouse. Phillips Jr. tells his partner he would rather die than go to jail again, both having previously been imprisoned 4 years prior. The bank hostages hear them say this.
The robbers step out of the bank and start shooting again, and try to shoot at a police car driven by Detective Frank McGregor going for assistance to help Henry. By now, officers have pulled out their shotguns while some continue using their pistols. As they continue shooting at the police, Mătăsăreanu's duffel bag starts to produce purple smoke, coming from the money the teller had snuck inside earlier. This frustrates him and he goes back into the bank and attempts to murder him, but he closes the vault door with all the hostages before he can.
Meanwhile, Phillips Jr. loses his balance after bullets push him down with force but does not give up shooting at the police. He goes to the car and reloads his gun, taunting the police in the process. Then he starts shooting at a news chopper that pulls away, hoping to bring down casualties but fails. Mătăsăreanu walks out of the bank and then goes behind the wheel of the car. Phillips Jr. tells him to start driving while he kills the cops. The robbers begin leaving the area, with Phillips Jr. injuring more cops along the way. Mătăsăreanu urges him to get in the car, but he wants to continue shooting the police.
Phillips Jr. hides behind a semitrailer and attempts to fire back when his assault rifle starts to jam. He cannot remove the magazine from the gun so he continues shooting using his own pistol. Without his powerful rifle, the police have the upper hand, shooting him in the knee, as just across from him, Detective Frank McGregor is pointing his gun towards the robber. Phillips Jr. looks like he is about to shoot McGregor but instead commits suicide, with McGregor simultaneously shooting him.
Mătăsăreanu sees his fallen partner on the ground, and attempts to flee in the car. But with the tires blown out, he tries his hand at stealing another car. After two unsuccessful attempts, he sees a truck coming in his direction and shoots at the driver. He misses him, and the driver flees before he can get hurt, switching off his truck before escaping. Mătăsăreanu attempts to drive the truck away but he can't, and he uses the last of his breath to take down the incoming SWAT officers with his AK47.
But he is no match for them, as SWAT officer Donnie Anderson shoots Mătăsăreanu in the foot and the rest of the officers shoot his legs out. He is pinned to the ground and handcuffed but due to blood loss coming from his legs, died that day. Despite their heavy firepower and bulletproof vests that made them nearly untouchable, the "High Incident Bandits" did not take any lives that day.
- While Larry Phillips Jr. committed suicide in the film, in real life, accounts vary of his actual fate (some sources say he may have tried to remove a bullet from his pistol using his teeth, but ended up shooting himself instead).
- The physical appearances of Emil Mătăsăreanu and Larry Phillips Jr. are swapped. The real Mătăsăreanu had long hair while Phillips Jr. had short hair.