Friday, 10 February 2012

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within - Movie Review

Do you like foreign language films and are looking for an action packed political thriller?

After a prison riot, former Captain Nascimento, now a high ranking security officer in Rio de Janeiro, is swept into a bloody political dispute that involves government officials and paramilitary groups.

Who's In It
Wagner Moura - Captain Nascimento
Irandhir Santos - the human rights activist, Fraga
Bunch of other Brazilian actors

What I Thought
Wow, that's a lot of sponsors before the movie even starts. It's great to see a movie like this getting so much support to get made and distributed. I do however feel like I want a Brahms beer now and a number of other Brazilian products.

Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within was for me like Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, so real that you almost want to believe it. The film is semi-fictional so there are elements of truth to it.

The story takes place over a number of years and mostly is told from the perspective of the head of a police special operations unit. After an action packed opening scene with a botched riot in a prison, he reforms the unit to tackle Rio de Janeiro's drug problem, which shows the corruption within the government and various law enforcement officials.

You talkin' to me?
This is actually a sequel, it's real title is Tropa de Elite 2 – O Inimigo Agora é Outro. I've not seen the first one, but running alongside the main theme of corruption is a back story with his wife and kid that's obviously come through from the original film. The human rights activist above is now with his wife and kid and there are scenes of tension throughout. His son becomes more detached from him as he becomes more involved in the extreme measures employed in cleaning up the streets of Rio.

The main theme of corrupt government officials is the real pull on this film. It's staggering how corrupt the system is, hence The Enemy Within part of the title, as Nascimento becomes more and more embroiled within the inner workings of government re-election during his role of cleaning up the streets. The action scenes when firing on the cities drug dealers feels very real, and the guns have a real weight and meat to them. The audio work must be commended for the realism in gunfire - they were probably using real weapons!

There are also some macabre moments. One that comes to mind is, as the camera pans in, you become aware that a militia cop is actually pulling the teeth out of a burnt skull with pliers, while the body burns in the background. There is no shortage to the lengths these people will go to to keep their secret safe. The lack of regard for human life is staggering, second only to some films I've seen about slaughter in Africa.

The movie closes with an excellent thought provoking speech.

Things I Learned
In keeping with my tradition of things I learned from this foreign language movie, rather than quotes:
  • By 2081, 90% of the Brazilian population will be in jail, through a mathematical process of extrapolation.
  • A 7.62mm bullet makes a small hole on entry but the exit wound is the size of a tangerine.
  • Never turn your back on corrupt militia, you may wind up with a bullet between the shoulder blades.

3/5 - A surprisingly engaging political thriller, backed up with semi-fictional content

There are a few trailers out there for Elite Squad: The Enemy Within. I picked this one as it shows it's a Portuguese language film, but also shows all the quotes about Sundance etc.

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