Internal Affairs (film)

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This article is about the 1990 American film. For the 2002 Hong Kong film, see Infernal Affairs. For other uses, see Internal affairs (disambiguation).
Internal Affairs
Internal affairs film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Figgis
Produced by Frank Mancuso Jr.
Written by Henry Bean
Starring Richard Gere
Andy García
Nancy Travis
Laurie Metcalf
Music by Brian Banks
Mike Figgis
Anthony Marinelli
Cinematography John A. Alonzo
Edited by Robert Estrin
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • January 12, 1990 (1990-01-12) (United States)
Running time
114 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $27,734,391 (USA)

Internal Affairs is a 1990 American crime thriller film set in Los Angeles about the police department's Internal Affairs Division.

Directed by Mike Figgis, the film stars Richard Gere as Dennis Peck, a suave womanizer, clever manipulator, and crooked cop who uses his fellow officers as pawns for his own nefarious purposes while showing a tender side as a devoted father. Andy García plays Raymond Avilla, the Internal Affairs agent who becomes obsessed with catching Peck when he suspects that Peck is not the poster boy police officer that the precinct has made him out to be.


Patrolmen Dennis Peck and Van Stretch arrest a drug pusher and his girlfriend. The girlfriend resists and Stretch viciously assaults both of them. Outside, patrolman Dorian Fletcher sees a man running towards him; he shoots him. Peck discovers that the man had no weapon; Dorian is shocked and repentant, but Peck proceeds to take a knife out of his boot, clean off his prints, and place it in the dead man's hand. Dorian tries to stop Peck, who insists that cops watch each other's back.

Raymond Avila joins the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and is partnered with Amy Wallace. They are initially assigned to investigate Van Stretch's conduct from the drug-bust. During a mandatory interrogation, it is discovered that Stretch has committed three code 181's for excessive force in less than ten months, has an uncontrollable substance abuse issue, and is a racist. After interviewing his wife Penny, who shows signs of domestic abuse, they start looking closely at his financial holdings, which suggest something suspicious.

Stretch's partner Peck, so-called role model of the LAPD, seems to have no clue about his partner's private life. Yet, as Stretch comes under pressure from Avila to sort himself out, certain issues about Peck begin to surface. An altercation between Peck and Dorian over the arrest of a prostitute/informant is witnessed by several patrolmen, and other officers express their distaste for Peck and his techniques. Stretch is pressured to provide evidence against Peck in return for immunity from prosecution. While this fails, Avila finds a type of ally in Dorian, who shows disgust with the similarities between Avila and Peck but agrees to help. Peck also insinuates making advances on Kathleen, Raymond's wife, if Avila persists in his investigation. Raymond's marriage is starting to wilt due to his increased obsession with the case.

Stretch, pushed to the breaking point, calls his wife and tells her he intends to testify against Peck. Penny, who is having sex with Peck at the time, urges Van not to talk to anyone before she speaks with him first.

Peck chooses to have Van Stretch killed. Sometime later, he and Stretch are on patrol during the graveyard shift in Huntington Park. While heading through an industrial sector, they run across an abandoned blue van. Everything appears routine, until Stretch opens the sliding door and takes a shotgun blast point blank in the chest. As the shooter emerges from the vehicle, it is clear that this was a hit staged by Peck, who congratulates the killer, and then kills him. He requests assistance to a 187 on a peace officer when the blue van suddenly speeds away, indicating a witness to the crime. Van, amazingly still alive, begs for help. Peck instead finishes him off by strangling him, making it appear to the arriving paramedics that Van died in his arms.

After making efforts to track down the witness to Van Stretch's murder, a sting is set up to catch him. However, things get bloody after information of the sting is somehow leaked, and Avila and Wallace notice a sudden response from two LAPD SWAT tactical units, who shoot on sight. The witness panics, shooting and killing Dorian, before he is taken out by a police sniper. As he dies in Avila's arms, he identifies Peck as the man behind Stretch's murder.

Peck meets with Kathleen, insinuating to be IAD himself, to ask about Raymond's behavior at home and other innocent, on-the-surface questions. The real intent is so Raymond, who is "covertly" following Dennis, sees him with Kathleen, thus establishing that Dennis can manipulate the game to his advantage. The episode puts Raymond "on tilt" as he goes back to the office, slams a chair down and is sent home. Entering the elevator he is confronted by Dennis, who beats him up and throws a pair of panties in his face, boasting that he bedded Raymond's wife earlier.

Raymond's rage boils over, and he goes looking for Kathleen, finding her at a restaurant with a client from the gallery where she works. Raymond proves he is totally off the hook when he repeatedly asks Kathleen "who did you have lunch with?" When she does not reply, he reveals that he knows. He then punches the client, slaps Kathleen to the floor and screams obscenities in Spanish at the other patrons as he storms out.

The two (forcefully) make up the following morning when Kathleen convinces Raymond that she would never sleep with Peck.

Avila and Wallace's continued pressure on Peck's family bears fruit when Peck's wife reveals the name of one of his associates, Steven Arrocas, which also happens to be the last name of two recent homicide victims. (Earlier, Arrocas hired Peck to murder his parents for business purposes.) Wallace and Avila know this is far more than a coincidence.

Arrocas walks in on Peck making love to his (Arrocas') wife. Peck tries to goad Arrocas into killing her, but Arrocas accidentally shoots Peck in the foot instead. Avila and Wallace arrive; when they split up and clear the house, Avila finds the bodies of the Arrocases in the bedroom. Peck bursts out from behind some garbage cans in the garage and shoots Wallace in the flank, then flees. Wallace is rushed to the hospital; her fate is not revealed, though the doctor says she stands a chance. Avila, fearing for his wife's safety, returns home to find Peck about to rape her. Avila holds Peck at gun-point; Peck pulls his knife out of his boot and lunges at Raymond, who shoots him dead, and then tries to comfort his terrorized wife.



Internal Affairs was well received by critics; review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives it an 88% "Fresh" rating based on 25 reviews. Janet Maslin of The New York Times said, "Internal Affairs is, for the dim movie season that is traditionally January, an unusually bright light."[1]

Box office[edit]

The movie was a moderate success but performed better on home video.[2]


External links[edit]