Guest reviewer Chris Elena looks at the follow-up to Brazil’s Elite Squad, an incredibly rich and involved film that speaks a universal language.
Set thirteen years after the first film (Elite Squad), Lieutenant-Colonel Roberto Nascimento (Wagner Moura) of the BOPE, a Special forces unit of the military police of Rio de Janerio state, and his second in command André Matias (André Ramiro) are relieved from their positions when a prisoner is killed during their raid of a violent prison riot. Matias is transferred to the military police which is beyond corrupt. Nascimento is promoted based solely on his popularity, and accepts a role in the intelligence area of secretary of security.
Things only get worse as Nascimento, in his new position, sees all the corruption within the police force and the politicians who do everything they can to gain a few votes, including their association with corrupt and ruthless police officials who murder and steal without remorse. To complicate matters even further, Nascimento’s ex-wife is married to Fraga (Irandhir Santos), a recently elected state representative who aims to bring the violence and corruption to a halt, which only puts himself and his family in serious danger.
All of the elements in Elite Squad: The Enemy Within are very familiar. It seems we’ve seen the corrupt police and politician movie with a grandiose action sequence every half an hour, but not quite like this. The film dedicates almost all of its time in telling a story rather than focusing on action set pieces. In fact, there’s very little action to speak of. At the beginning of the film, as his car’s being shot at in slow motion, Nascimento muses “This may look like an American movie cliche”, and it is easily the film’s only such stylish scene. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is very aware of what it could’ve been, but instead chooses to not sacrifice any of the story in favour of some stylish violence, when someone’s shot or killed, it’s in bloody and unrelenting in its detail.
The story is an incredibly rich and involving one, and almost no time is wasted. The attention to detail and character development is also impressive. You care for Nascimento and his family, especially when they’re possible targets for danger. You will feel infuriated at some of the injustice that goes on within the city and the uphill battle to prevent it. The performances are all solid, with nothing being overplayed and a quiet chaos infused with each response or reaction. The screenplay, written by diretcor José Padilha and Bráulio Mantovani (City of God) is complex and overflowing with plot details and character studies, which goes hand-in-hand with the film’s direction.
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within could be very easily compared to City Of God, although granted, it isn’t as good as that masterpiece, but it has that attention to story and character that most action films or even thriller’s tend to ignore. It’s a universal story which could’ve been told in any language.
As for the release itself, the film is enough reason to make this more than just a rental. The picture and sound quality is crystal clear, even for DVD. The extra’s included are limited (Rounding up to about 13 minutes) with a brief yet interesting interview with the film’s director and a behind the scenes montage of how certain scenes were filmed. Although more features could’ve been included, it’s still deserves your shiny dollar.
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within was released in Australia on 11 January 2012 from Madman Entertainment.