Internal Affairs

Just what we didn't need: another kick-ass cop flick in which we know the guys are macho because they rough up their wives and the gals are hot because they totter on spike heels like hookers. And this from British writer-director-composer Mike Figgis, whose 1988 Stormy Monday was a steamily atmospheric film noir.

Now working out of his element in Los Angeles, director Figgis left the writing to newcomer Henry Bean, a Yale and Stanford grad with an overdeveloped ear for sleazy dialogue. Take the excuse that junkie cop William Baldwin (Alec's brother) gives for punching his wife: "She's on someone else's root. I can smell it on her." Baldwin thinks he's found a friend in Richard Gere, a womanizing cop who has been married four times and has eight kids, with another on the way. But Gere, as gentle as Mr. Rogers with the tykes, has a flaw: He heads a ring of rogue cops and moonlights as a hit man.

It's up to hard-nosed Latin cop Andy Garcia, an Internal Affairs officer, to catch Gere breaking the rules. Of course, Garcia must do some rule breaking of his own to make the collar. Get it? We're all corrupt, especially this picture, which offers familiar chases, shootouts and oozing wounds, plus racism (Garcia reacts like a stereotypical Latin hothead when Gere leers at his wife) and sexism (Garcia's partner, played by the gifted Laurie Metcalf, is often referred to as "the dyke").

In this cliché catchall, which wastes a fine cast, Gere has a ludicrous final speech about how he went bad to support his kids and flings the worst epithet he can think of at the childless Garcia: "You selfish yuppie." I preferred Gere's first line in the film: "Don't say a fucking word." If only everybody had listened.

From The Archives Issue 571: February 8, 1990