Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (tbc)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/08/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 114 mins

Engaging, enjoyable Brazilian thriller that balances a satisfyingly complex political plot with thrillingly staged gunfights, stand-offs and action sequences, anchored by a terrific performance from Wagner Moura as Nascimento.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jose Padhila, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (Tropa de Elite: O Inimigo Agora e Outro, original title fans) is both the sequel to the Brazilian 2007 thriller and the biggest ever box-office hit in its native country. Set 13 years later, the film once again stars Wagner Moura as Lt Col Nascimento, who's kicked upstairs to become under-secretary for intelligence after a prison stand-off between rioters and his paramilitary BOPE (Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais) squad goes terribly wrong.

Once installed in his new job, Nascimento uncovers a nest of corruption and criminality that extends to execution-style murder, drug-dealing, bribery, extortion and politicians manipulating the favelas for votes, with evil Col Fabio (Milhem Cortaz) at the head of what is essentially a state-sponsored Mafia organisation. Prompted by both searching questions from his young son and by the framing and targeting of his best friend, Nascimento decides to wage war on the corrupt system from within, finding an unlikely ally in human rights campaigner Diogo Fraga (Irandhir Santos), who just happens to be married to Nascimento's ex-wife Rosane (Maria Ribeiro).

The Good
Moura is terrific as Nascimento and his hangdog, seemingly expressionless face is fascinating to watch as he doggedly pursues his goals; this makes the moments when he does eventually show emotion that much more powerful.

There's also strong support from Santos as the equally dedicated (if much more liberal) Fraga, while Cortaz is suitably chilling as Col Fabio. The script is excellent, balancing a satisfyingly complex political plot with a strong personal element (e.g. when Fraga becomes a target, Nascimento's family are suddenly in danger). It's also strikingly shot by cinematographer Lula Carvalho, who gets terrific use out of a variety of authentic Rio locations.

The Great
Despite a lengthy running time, Padhila maintains a cracking pace throughout, aided by a strong score from Pedro Bromfman. In addition, Padhila orchestrates a number of thrilling action sequences (most notably a night-time ambush sequence) and shoot-outs, while also pulling off a couple of heart-stopping shock moments.

Worth seeing?
Superbly directed and sharply written, this is an engaging political-slash-police thriller with exciting action sequences and a terrific central performance from Wagner Moura. Recommended.

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Content updated: 26/08/2019 15:50

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