Turn Back the Clock


Internal Affairs

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            In 1990, a new police thriller hit the theaters starring Andy Garcia and Richard Gere, two of the hottest actors in Hollywood at the time.  I first became interested in Andy Garcia after seeing him in The Untouchables, another favorite cop movie of mine.  Richard Gere - well, who could forget Richard Gere from films like American Gigolo and An Officer and a Gentleman.  Not only were these two actors hot, but they were rather intense.  I couldnít wait to see Internal Affairs, but unfortunately didnít have money to go see it in the theater at the time.  Happily, I didnít have to wait too long to purchase the video.  Years later, I replaced the much used VHS tape with a DVD version.

            Andy Garcia is Raymond Avila, a Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant who joins the Internal Affairs Division.  Upon joining, Avila is given a song and dance about the essential role IAD plays in the police department and how the other cops are happy they have such a division that helps to grant them respect in the publicís eye.  His new partner, Amy Wallace (Laurie Metcalf), tells him the true story of what itís like being an IAD officer - that anyone who was your friend on the force wonĎt want to know you now.

            But it isnít long before Raymond discovers this for himself.  One of his friends from the police academy happens to be his very first case.  Van Stretch (William Baldwin) is under investigation for using excessive force during a drug bust.  As the investigation moves forward, Raymond becomes less interested in Stretch and more interested in his partner Dennis Peck (Richard Gere).  Peck is supposedly one of the better officer in the LAPD, well-liked and very well-respected, but Peck rubs Raymond the wrong way and Raymondís investigative instincts kick into overdrive.  Raymond believes Peck is dirty and he is determined to prove it.

            Internal Affairs is an incredibly intriguing film.  Thereís plenty of action and suspense.  Richard Gere is terrific as the incredibly evil Dennis Peck.  He makes you want to hate him with his smug attitude and his sleaziness.  You find yourself wishing you were in the film just so you could have the shot at nailing this corrupt cop to the wall.  Now, you would think Raymond Avilaís character would be much more likeable, but Andy Garcia portrays him perfectly.  This is a guy with incredible intensity and a great many faults.  William Baldwin as Van Stretch is a sniveling dirtbag who you want to hate at first, but then you start to feel sorry for him.  Laure Metcalf as Amy Wallace provides comic relief for her intense partner.

            In addition to Richard Gere, Andy Garcia, Laurie Metcalf, and William Baldwin, this film contains quite a cast of well-known actors, including Michael Beach as a fellow officer taken in by Dennis Peck, Nancy Travis as Raymond Avilaís wife, Faye Grant as Van Stretchís wife, Annabella Sciorra as Dennisí current wife, and Elijah Wood in one of his debut roles as Van Stretchís son.

            Internal Affairs isnít just a cat and mouse cop movie - a good cop chases dirty cop film.  This is a study of human nature.  On the surface, Dennis Peck is one of the good guys, a guy you want to have around as a friend, always willing to lend a helping hand.  But hidden underneath is a monster - a man willing to do anything for the right price.  And yet his reasons for his criminal activity are pure - he wants to provide the best life possible for his children.  On the surface, Raymond Avila is one intense cop who lives by a code of morality and justice.  But hidden beneath is a monster with two heads - jealousy and obsession.  Jealous at anyone who even smiles at his wife and obsessed with getting his man, no matter what the cost.

            Both men have the propensity for violence.  Both men have intense feelings for the people they care about.  Both exhibit obsessive behaviors.  The powers that be who created this film go out of their way to show you that, although on different sides of the law, Peck and Avila are very similar to one another.  This idea that a good guy and a bad guy could be so similar is what drew me to this film and why I enjoy watching it over and over again.

            I am a tad disappointed by the lack of extras on the DVD version of the film.  I would have loved a commentary by the director as to the psychology behind the cop film.  However, despite the lack of special features, Internal Affairs will always be a movie I will enjoy watching from start to finish.  Of course, I must warn you, this movie is definitely not for children and most certainly not for those who have issues with verbally and sexually explicit situations.  So, put the kiddies to bed before watching this film and chase anyone who might take offense out of the room before watching, but definitely check out Internal Affairs.  The acting is great, the story is a tad overboard, but still enjoyable and the study of human nature behind the story is extremely intriguing.  With Internal Affairs, you get everything you paid for and then some. 


For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at talonkarrde@g-pop.net.