Thu 29 Nov 2012
Brazilian cinema is for me another almost completely unexplored territory. Have I ever seen a Brazilian movie before? Probably not, maybe a couple of documentaries about Brazilian music. Director Jose Padilha‘s Elite Squad was for me as big a surprise as it must have been for many of the viewers at the Cannes festival a few years ago. Settled in one of the many favelas, the bad-famed suburbs of Rio, it describes in a non-compromising manner a sick society faced with such a level of violence and corruption that it seems to make any tentative to reinstate law and justice a risky and utopian endeavor. And yet this is exactly what the team of policemen in the center of the film tries to do, and the principal heroes are a couple of recruits trained into becoming some of the most efficient (and most violent) cops to fight organized crime.
The action formula with a police school sub-theme works, the story is extremely well paced, realistic, even if sometimes cruel to the limits and not completely avoiding (because of the rush) to create some confusions. Overall, because of the sincere acting, and the unusual setting Elite Squad leaves the impression of bringing fresh air in the cops vs gangsters genre.
Acting is good and the characters are well-drawn. We understand well their motivations and their relationship with the environment in which they live and they fight. I liked the film, and my only concern was that I read that after a few years a sequel was made. When an original story in a refreshing environment is repeated, there is a high probability to be turned in a tired formula. I hope to be wrong.