Think of an episode of your favorite TV cop show, with the violence and sex made a bit more explicit. You have this wildly unlikely but mildly diverting story of a corrupt Los Angeles beat officer.
Gere plays the bad cop with a convincingly slick blend of ruthlessness and seductive charm; Garcia is the new internal affairs investigator who smells a rat when he starts checking on Gere's partner.
Not that it's hard to be suspicious. Gere has a wife and three exes, eight kids, a sports car and a palatial home, and he still pounds a beat. But nobody so much as asks him if he is reselling fruit-stand apples at a big markup until Garcia comes along.
After that, there's an increasing amount of bloodshed, and Gere also starts putting moves on Garcia's wife, Nancy (Married to the Mob) Travis, in an effectively nervous performance.
This film has none of the moody atmosphere of director Mike Figgis's previous movie, Stormy Monday; he doesn't use his background music or lighting with nearly as much impact. But his actors give Internal Affairs a modicum of credibility.
Garcia (who has played enough cops to be close to qualifying for a pension) offers an almost serene complement to Gere's obviously sleazy villain, and Laurie (Making Mr. Right) Metcalf, as Garcia's partner, borrows a number of scenes with judicious underplaying.
While the ending is predictable, no point tipping it off. It's worth noting, however, that Gere—a drug-dealing, woman-beating contract murderer—has a social conscience. That becomes clear when Garcia gets him really mad and Gere charges at him, out of control, yelling, "You selfish yuppie!" (R)