March 4, 2012

Filthy Review - Elite Squad: The Enemy Within

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2010)

Review by Jude Felton

As a general rule I do not watch sequels without having watched the previous movie, or movies, in the series. Occasionally it happens though, and this is the case with 2010’s Elite Squad: The Enemy Within. After watching the movie though I can honestly say that I did not feel as though I was at all lost in what was going on. Saying that though, I do plan on catching up on 2007’s Elite Squad in the very near future.

The film is set in sunny Rio, but this isn’t the postcard version that is all carnivals and tourists. Instead it features a grim drug-infested and very violent world in which the dealers rule the roost; at least they think they do.

In the middle of all this is Lt. Colonel Nascimento who is in charge of the military-style BOPE security force. We join him as he oversees a prison riot in which one drug faction seeks to wipe out the other two major players. Diogo Fraga is sent in to try and mediate with the rioters, but before he has a chance to weave his magic he finds himself in the midst of gunfire and blood.

Due to the negative press surrounding events in the prison the powers that be want to hang out Nascimento to dry, blaming him for the massacre. However, the public, who have long been at the mercy of the drug lords, see him as a hero. Bowing to public pressure Nascimento finds himself promoted to a high-ranking office position. However, it is here that he bears witness to the real lawbreakers.

With the drug lords out of the picture the corrupt side of the police force takes it upon themselves to run the slums of Rio with the same level of brutality. However, it is not just a few officers running amok and Nascimento learns just how high up it goes.

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is a film with a lot going on in it. Although you could just view it as a basic crime thriller, in the vein of Infernal Affairs, it really does pay to pay attention to all that is going on. Doing so only enhances your viewing experience of this quite excellent movie.

Straight from the start the violence is right in your face, and at times it is quite brutal. Characters are beaten, torched and shot in almost documentary style close-up, and the violence never really abates. It is a cold and harsh movie, yet it is never anything less than absolutely gripping. The slums of Rio are brought to life vividly and the sense of desperation and frustration is all too clear to see. The direction, from Jose Padhila, ensures that the viewer is thrust deep into the action so that we don’t miss a beat.

Although Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is very much an action thriller it does offer so much more. The politics behind the motives of the characters is very much a focus of the events and the script does an excellent job of keeping you guessing as to how everything is going to work out.

The cast are universally excellent; giving real depth to both sides of the battle, and thanks to Naschimento’s intermittent narration ensures that the viewer is totally aware of what is going on throughout.

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is an incredibly dark and almost depressing movie in some aspects. It’s bleak and it is often hard to find a shred of decency in amongst all the corruption, but it is here that the film also excels. It’s a million miles away from the glossy thrillers that many are used to seeing; there is nothing cool about what happens in this movie. When someone dies it sticks in your mind, it’s cold, sudden and very violent.

This is definitely a movie to seek out if you are looking for something a little different from your average thriller. It’s probably not the best advertisement for the Brazilian tourist board, but it is an excellent and gripping movie.

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is available now on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from New Video Group

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