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The plot of INTERNAL AFFAIRS is simple and familiar--good guy Raymond Avila (Andy Garcia) works for the internal affairs division of the LAPD and has to take down Dennis Peck (Richard Gere), a corrupt officer. The twist is that the film is really about social change in America. Gere plays Peck as an iconoclastic force of nature; he charms everyone he meets, runs the force by trading favors and protecting his own, and has eight kids with four wives. He sees himself as a throwback to an older notion of manhood and professional effectiveness. Avila, on the other hand, is a hero but also--as Peck calls him--a yuppie, seeking promotion in the internal affairs division and involved in a childless marriage with a successful museum curator (Nancy Travis). As Peck pushes Avila's buttons, the situation is further complicated by Avila's Latin temper--a kind of suppressed, true ethnic self that increasingly reveals itself as the two men's struggle reaches a primal level. British director Mike Figgis is an outsider looking in, and his ideas about American society are to some extent generalizations, but nevertheless they have the ring of truth in this intense cop fable.
This taut, atmospheric thriller centers on a veteran cop whose manipulation of the system falls under the intense scrutiny of an up-and-coming internal affairs officer after the murder of a policeman.
Theatrical release: January 1990. Shot in Los Angeles, California. The film features video art by Andrea Dietrich.
"...Figgis has established himself as a master of steamy sex appeal....[INTERNAL AFFAIRS is] an unusally bright light..." - 01/12/1990 New York Times, p.C10
"...The film really heats up..." -- 3 out of 4 stars - 01/12/1990 USA Today, p.2D
"...Hypnotically directed....Gere is the essence of insinuating evil..." -- Rating: B+ - 10/18/1996 Entertainment Weekly, pp.88-9
"[I]t's Gere's psycho who arrests your attention." - 04/01/2004 Total Film, p.137