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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Don't trust anyone

The Mod Squad on IMDb

Plot Overview

Lincoln's faceCaptain Adam Greer (Dennis Farina) heads the “mod squad.” It consists of three felons released to him on special assignment in lieu of serving their time: Julie Barnes (Claire Danes) at 18 is a street-hardened blonde who wears her hair in a pixie cut and is pretty when she smiles, which ain't often. Her contemporary Pete Cochrane (Giovanni Ribisi) went right to crime out of high school. And black Lincoln “Linc” Hayes was “named after Lincoln who freed the slaves.” The movie doesn't peg his sur­name, that of President Hayes who ended recon­struction and returned “home rule” to the South. President Lincoln's Emancipation Procla­mation to the newly liberated had “recom­mend[ed] … that, in all cases when allowed they labor faith­fully for reason­able wages.” This squad job would qualify, though blacks aren't singled out; they recruited everyman.

Their immediate assignment is to infiltrate a night club suspected of black book dealing (prostitution) and drug distribution. While they try to blend in, Julie's ex-boy­friend Billy (Josh Brolin) of questionable motives reconnects with her, Pete gets evicted for making a scene, and some of the men in blue seem to be working both sides of the street. When Captain Greer is mysteriously shot to death under the Sixth Street Bridge the squad had staked out, they find them­selves up the proverbial creek with­out a paddle. They are being royally set up and dead bodies keep mounting.


card playersThe police action lends itself to comparison with one of Kenny Rogers's songs concerning a chance encounter with “The Gambler” on a train. He offered his fellow passenger the advice that “the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.” The refrain of the song goes:

You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run. You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

This wisdom of the gambling man's repartee is old as the hills and was passed on by a raconteur, Agur in Proverbs 30:1, whose four meta­phors offered the same life advice as did Rogers's Gambler. That we find in, (Prov. 30:29-31) “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”

We have Agur's “lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any,” and we have Rogers's “know[ing] when to hold 'em.” In our movie when the mod squad gets wind of a major drug trans­action, Linc shows up at the ware­house to be the inside man, passing him­self off as an aide to Howard (Michael Lerner) a major player who's about to arrive. He's put him­self in jeopardy trusting the team will work it out.

We have Agur's “king, against whom there is no rising up,” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to fold 'em.” A king who knows when to give in to his subjects doesn't experience any uprising. When the mod squad stumbles upon the recently deceased body of their captain, one of them suggests, “We gotta get the hell outta here.” He is countered by, “We're cops. We're on the scene. This is our job.” Yeah but, “We're not that kind of cops.” They'd best make themselves scarce.

dwarf goatWe have Agur's “he goat also” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to walk away.” Pete looking a little worse for the wear drops in unannounced at his folks' home. His father Mr. Cochrane (Holmes Osborne) says he's not bailing him out this time. His mom Mrs. Cochrane (Dey Young) provides him with some clean clothes at least. His best option at this point is to just walk away.

We have Agur's “greyhound” and Rogers's “Know[ing] when to run.” When they're surveilling the bad guys who hear a noise and come out shooting, their best option is to flee.

The gambler gave the advice:

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

The original “Mod Squad” TV series of the 60's and 70's came out when America was in the grip of a generation gap. With the end of the Vietnam War, it has largely subsided, but this movie would still provide a great opportunity to discuss divisive social and political issues.

Production Values

” (1999) was directed by Scott Silver. It was written by Buddy Ruskin, Stephen Kay and Scott Silver. It stars Claire Danes, Omar Epps and Giovanni Ribisi. The acting was okay as far as it went, but it wasn't by any means prize­worthy. Epps could have stood to loosen up a bit. Ribisi made a good doofus. Danes was miscast as a tough girl.

MPAA rated it R for language, violence and some sexuality. The boring plot, lack of character development and substandard camera work were its major flaws. The camera­­man was, however, creative at times. He or the editor used a quick­fire triple repeat for the blood splatter scene, and some shots were angled through a window or off a mirror. The bulk of the movie, unfortunately, dispensed with any vistas or back­ground that would have made it more interesting. It was consistently focused tight on the faces that weren't movie star hand­some to alleviate an hour and a half of boredom. The closeups seemed always to cut off part of the subjects' faces. And one of them was black whose features fade into shadow on all those night takes. The sound­track was decent.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

If you are looking for a remake of a popular TV show, you may be disappointed. In fact you may be disappointed no matter what your expectations. At best it can serve to put you to sleep for late night viewing. There wasn't any religion in it per se. One of the leads was named after President Lincoln who never belonged to any church, and the locals considered him an infidel. Southern viewers may be put off were they not already by California crime.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Perhaps for late night viewing. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Rogers, Kenny. Songwriter Don Schlitz. “The Gambler.” Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Pub. LLC. Web.