Sunday 17 December 2023

Movie Review: Internal Affairs (1990)

Genre: Crime Thriller
Director: Mike Figgis
Starring: Richard Gere, Andy Garcia, Nancy Travis, Laurie Metcalf
Running Time: 115 minutes

Synopsis: In Los Angeles, corrupt cop Dennis Peck (Richard Gere) funnels illicit money to his pockets and doles out favours to other cops, including his cocaine-addicted partner Van Stretch (William Baldwin). When Van roughs up his wife, internal affairs agents Raymond Avilla (Andy Garcia) and Amy Wallace (Laurie Metcalf) start to investigate. Dennis and Raymond hate each other from police academy days, and as Raymond closes in on Dennis' racket, their rivalry becomes personal and violent, with Raymond's wife Kathleen (Nancy Travis) dragged into the conflict.

What Works Well: Although they both struggle against poorly defined characterizations, Richard Gere and Andy Garcia provide high-wattage and confident star power. They are complemented by Nancy Travis, who gets the best and most surprisingly effective scene, and a tragic William Baldwin. The production values are high and director Mike Figgis hustles the action along, underlining the toll of an intense investigation on Raymond's home life.

What Does Not Work As Well: After a promising start, the second half of Henry Bean's script disintegrates into a ridiculous over-the-top hissing-and-punching duel between a psychopath and a hothead, both preferring fists over wits. The narrative omits even a basic explanation of the mass corruption at the heart of the investigation (Dennis' involvement with sleazoids far from explaining his supposed wealth and influence), then detaches from reality as assaults multiply and the dead bodies pile-up.

Conclusion: The veneer of quality hides a rotting core.

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