An intense and gripping picture from Brazil which is
heavy on social conscience and political satire, Jose
Padilha (who also wrote the script) directs with a
definite panache and visceral quality akin to fellow
films of Brazilian cinema lately.
After a prison riot that goes wrong under his watch,
Nascimento (Wagner Moura) is swept into a political
dispute concerning government officials and
paramilitary groups - the situation is not helped by
the family matters as his ex-wife (Maria Ribeiro) is
engaged to a fool, Fraga (Irandhir Santos) who is
running for political office, which could endanger his
position if elected.
There is plenty of violence and gunplay on a level
with that employed by Michael Mann in his seminal Heat
and any Tony Scott film. Padilha is very clever,
he has pretty much directed a typical B-class script
involving political shenanigans and backstabbing which
would be also ran fare if released by Hollywood, but
the sheer thrill seeking of the piece, helped by great
production values and a suitably entertaining cast
elevates the film to a respectable spectacle.
It is all here - bent cops, cops that are good but
have trouble on the inside, cops that are bad, cops
that cannot control emotions, bent political
officials, serpentine plotting and strands that all
come together in that great Latin American tradition
of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (21 Grams, Babel) -
fans of City of God and The Wire will feel right at
home in this mesh and mess of law and order and chaos.
Padilha directed the respected documentary Bus 174
(2002) which had a close-camerawork and MTV editing;
the conviction with which he directs this sequel to
2007's Elite Squad puts it in that rare pantheon of
films that are better than the original.
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is released on DVD from
Aim Publicity on 26th December (Boxing Day)