In The Line Of Duty : The Siege At Marion

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Bob Bryant, F.B.I. agent in charge of an operation to arrest Adam Swapp and his brother Jonathan are suspects in the bombing of Mormon Center in Utah.

ACTORS :  Ed Begley Jr., Dennis Franz, Tess Harper

YEAR OF RELEASE :  1992

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In The Line Of Duty : The Siege At Marion Bob Bryant, F.B.I. agent in charge of an operation to arrest Adam Swapp and his brother Jonathan are suspects in the bombing of Mormon Center in Utah. The brothers and their families hold-up on their farm with provisions and enough ammunition to withstand the governments siege. They are devout in their beliefs and purposes and are determined to stand up for their rights.

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In The Line Of Duty : The Siege At Marion  For anyone who may not recall the events, they revolved around a fanatically religious Utah family, members of a polygamist Mormon cult that sought to shut themselves off from the corrupt non-believers of the outside world. After skirmishes with the local community, the authorities become involved and soon foster concerns for the welfare of the children of the household, who have now been withdrawn from their schooling. A tense stand-off results, with the authorities wanting to gain access to the house and the children and this being zealously denied by the protective head of the family, John Singer. A confrontation results, with the FBI resolving (botching?) the matter by shooting and killing Singer, predictably enough only succeeding in making Singer a martyr to his widow Vickie (superbly acted by Tess Harper). The family is then joined by equally fanatical Adam Swapp (Kyle Secor), who assumes the position of head of the household by marrying both of Singer’s daughters. He turns out to be just as much of a loony, if not more so, than his predecessor.

Concerns for the welfare of the children are used by the authorities as the main reason for wanting and needing to break up this religious cult, as it continues to pose a threat to the local community specifically, but more so the morals and legal sensibilities of the community at large. The trouble is that, as the household is simply bailed up on their own property and ostensibly not infringing anyone else’s rights or breaking any other laws, there is no obvious justifiable reason for the FBI to storm the house and forcibly remove the family from their own property without appearing to infringe the very rights that the family is defending. But of course the concerns for the innocent children caught up in this mess are valid, and it becomes a moral dilemma and logistical nightmare as to how to gain access to remove the children. The ensuing siege lasts 13 days and is credited as being “the longest siege in FBI history in which the subjects have not talked to the authorities”. The FBI is forced to resort to blatant psychological warfare, respecting the physical borders of the private property but using all means possible, including 24 hour a day bright floodlights and noise to disrupt the household and try to force them out.

The acting in this docu-drama is better than I was expecting. The FBI Special Agent in charge is played by Dennis Franz, of NYPD Blue and Die Hard 2 fame. He does an excellent job. Well, considering the constraints of a stereotypical characterisation and a contrite script anyway. Similarly, all the other acting performances in this feature are first rate for a production of this type. Siege At Marion is ultimately interesting, informative, well-paced (if not predictable) and well produced.

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