'Elite Squad 2' Is A Must See Crime Thriller [Sundance Review]

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One of the films featured on our extensive Best Movies of 2010 That You Probably Haven't Heard Of list was a Brazilian action movie titled Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within. The original Elite Squad was released in 2007 (now available on DVD), and was highly acclaimed by critics and moviegoers.

I screened Elite Squad 2 at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, without having seen the first film (as I was told that was not a requirement — although I plan on checking it out when I return home). From director José Padilha, the highly acclimed filmmaker behind Bus 174, comes a crime thriller which might be best described as a cross between The Departed, The Wire and The Godfather.

The story is set in crime-infused slum area favelas of Rio de Janeiro — an area which has been explored on screen in the Oscar-nominated City Of God and the documentary Manda Bala, which suggested that the violent street crime was linked to higher political corruption.

This film explores this idea, with Wagner Moura reprising his role as Roberto Nascimento, rising from commander-in-chief of Rio's BOPE (Special Police Operations Battalion) to sub-secretary of intelligence. As he eliminates drug trafficking in favelas, he realizes that he is working side-by-side with his real enemies — corrupt cops and dirty politicians. Fans of the first film may be in for a shock, as I've heard this is an entirely different movie.

Beautifully captured on film – gritty, bloody and dirt covered. Even though the movie is more of a crime thriller than an action film, the chase sequences sequences down narrow slum streets and street shootouts are exciting and well executed. Elite Squad 2 is one of those rare films which plays for the masses, not only succeeding as entertainment but delves into serious issues about the social reality in Brazil.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10