DIRECTOR: Jose Padilha

CAST: Wagner Moura, Irandhir Santos, Andre Ramiro, Milhem Cortaz


RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes

RATING: ****

Intense, riveting and agonising, this crime drama was shot in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The director makes it quite clear right at the start that Rio has a problem.

The film opens four years in the past in the city’s most notorious prison, where police chief Nascimento (Moura) is commanding his squad and assigned to stop a violent riot.

Tasked as the negotiator is Fraga (Santos), Nascimento’s archenemy, whose attempt to resolve the conflict peacefully goes horribly wrong.

This follows Nascimento becoming sub-secretary of intelligence and Fraga a senator.

However, it seems that Nascimento’s targets are no longer drug dealers and slum gangs that plague the city, but corrupt cops and scheming politicians with whom he works. This is where the crux lies.

The disturbing crime and corruption that plague the city breed anger and frustration.

The film operates in a moral grey zone and builds into an intriguing spiral of events. Full-throttle action is the attraction here. Director Jose Padilha styles the shooting scenes in the most raw, bloody and gory way.

The aggressive rock music score adds to the intensity of the scenes and the men who wield guns are as badass as they come. Subtitles are supplied, and there is some heavy use of narration to move the plot along – it seems Nascimento addresses the audience every 10 minutes. It makes it a bit difficult to become attached to characters when you are simply told of events, feelings, and intentions, rather than being witness to them.

Still, Elite Squad 2 is an eye-opener. It’s not overly focused on the action, but the main story that surrounds it makes the action. The story is very relevant in a political sense, as it is a commentary on the level of corruption in the police force and the government that the people of Rio de Janeiro are dealing with. It raises awareness about another part of the world.

If you liked… Children of God… you’ll like this.