Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
This Brazilian crime drama, overflowing with corrupt cops and well-meaning criminologists, is a fresh, relentlessly fast-paced two hours of cinematic inferno in the spirit of The Departed (originally the Hong Kong classic Infernal Affairs) and Heat.
Setting the tone, we are thrown right in to a prison riot that turns into a botched raid, ending in bloodshed and political recriminations for the police at the helm. Nascimento (our flawed cop) takes the hit, stood down then swiftly “promoted” to government intelligence, while his nemesis (and new husband of his ex-wife) Fraga appears on national TV issuing scalding criticism of the police’s conduct.
So there’s the emotionally complex personal story. On top of this we have gun battles in the anarchistic streets, where it’s hard to keep up with who’s a goodie (there aren’t many) and who deserves what he gets. It’s exciting, endlessly noisy (the soundtrack composer clearly worked hard for his paycheck) and the story punctuates shocking executions with twists and turns that keep us guessing. Echoing the quality of TV’s The Wire, the characters are sufficiently fleshed out, and the acting universally convincing, that we believe in their agony and we in turn care about the outcome.
Elite Squad 2 is allegedly better than its predecessor, which screened in the 2008 NZFF, and thankfully acts as a standalone film. Put your earplugs in, sit back and soak it up.