Elite Squad

Film Review by Laura Smith | 31 Jul 2008
  • Elite Squad
Film title: Elite Squad
Director: José Padilha
Starring: Wagner Moura, Caio Junqueira, André Ramiro
Release date: 8 Aug 2008
Certificate: 18


A tough, uncompromising look at police corruption and street crime in the drug saturated favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Elite Squad blasts across the screen with both barrels, blending the sweaty, frenetic, visual flamboyance of co-writer Bráulio Mantovani’s similarly themed City of God with lots of very Hollywood violence. Following the taciturn, slightly unhinged Captain Nascimento’s attempts to find a suitable replacement for himself on the titular Team Special, and his rather interminable narration of the same, director Jose Padilha’s film piles on the blood, bullets, ferocious pacing and jumpy camerawork to give some sense of the nightmarish brutality of life in the impenetrable, honeycombed slums packed around the hillsides of the city. But the film is let down by an unfocused structure, with too many converging, underdeveloped story strands lost beneath all the mayhem, and there’s a troubling fixation on counter-violence as the only solution. While the only insight it really offers goes roughly: corruption is not cool, ditto drug dealers, it’s still loud and flashy and exciting, and will make you really, really not want to go to Brazil. [Laura Smith]


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