Internal Affairs (1990) Directed by Mike Figgis. With Richard Gere, Andy Garcia, Nancy Travis and William Baldwin.
Mike Figgis’ Internal Affairs is a strange little film. It’s set in Los Angeles and was released in 1990, a year before the infamous Rodney King incident shook the LAPD to it’s core. It stars Richard Gere as corrupt cop, Dennis Peck, a man with no moral compass, who’s best solution to any problem involves a bullet. Opposing him, is Andy Garcia, as internal affairs investigator, Raymond Avilla.
The first thing to note is how badly the women are treated. Every major male character has a tendency towards physically and verbally abusing women. Even the ‘good cop’ of the piece, Andy Garcia, is intimidating towards his wife (Nancy Travis), in a scene reminiscent of Tony Montana in Scarface. Not to be outdone in the misogyny stakes, William Baldwin and Richard Gere both administer their own brand of girl bashing, in a film that depicts women as lesser beings, designed to service the needs of men.
With all this nastiness on show, it’s often hard to decide who to root for. In truth, part of you might hope the final act will become a female revenge flick, in which all the ghastly men are rounded up and given their dues. Alas, it never comes, and what we have in the end is a workmanlike but by-the-numbers thriller.
On the plus side, Richard Gere is tremendous in his smiling assassin role, a man intent on destroying the lives of anyone who crosses him. But he’s a charmer too, don’t forget, this was the year of Pretty Woman. The fly in Gere’s ointment is Garcia, who plays an intense type, lacking in charm and with serious anger issues to boot. Like I said, hard to choose sides.
Internal Affairs isn’t a bad film, and is worth a watch if just to see Gere dialling up the devilry. The female characters are mostly badly written victims however, and a sense of predictability starts to creep in by the half hour mark. Thanks to Gere, passable, but nothing special. 3/5