A gritty, ultra-violent Brazilian crime saga set in 1997 reveals a towering degradation in Rio de Janeiro (site of upcoming huge events in the next five years like the World Cup and the Olympics). It has made a big box-office splash in its area (thus requiring a follow-up) and may connect with the gamer crowd in other territories with an unconscionable call to duty.
A presumably fictional Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (fully subtitled) puts the emphasis on law enforcement in the city's favelas or slums with Lt. Col. Nascimento (Wagner Moura) meeting gangs head-on as the superior in the titular BOPE (Special Officers Battalion) unit. He's finally stepping down from the position to acquiesce his pregnant wife Roseanne, done with concern and frustration by Maria Ribeiro. But, who will he retain to do his unenviable tasks - edgy Neto (Caio Junqueira) or the fastidious Matias (Andre Ramiro)? The storyline co-written by Jose Padilha (Bus 174) pivots on trying to ensure some sense of tranquility for the Pope's impending arrival. That would take a lot more effort than nearly all on both sides of the law are willing to give.
Being locked into the bustle of the favela has touched the souls of everyone in harsh ways through a convoluted narrative with a cast fully committed to roles that are difficult to empathize with. Ramiro arguably internalizes the richest portrait of a mostly brutal bunch whose brutality outweighs the best of intentions in a place (where even alms folks are) at the behest of drug dealers.
This "Enemy" is hardly new in realizing where vengeance and narcissism end up, but its darker corners and individual impasses will be able to hold viewers for a while as certain passages have some photogenic blistering automatic weaponry on display. Elite Squad is easily toned up viscerally as the stuff of legend in broad virile strokes including it sonorous line readings and voice-overs. Yet, for such a raw exercise through all kinds of malevolent behavior, the filmmakers can't manifest enough truth and drama through the web of immorality and corruption it soberly trumps in the name of honor.
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