Elite Squad: The Enemy Within

Year: 2010
Production Co: Globo Filmes
Director: José Padilha
Writer: Bráulio Mantovani/José Padilha/Rodrigo Pimentel
Cast: Wagner Moura

If you only know Wagner Moura from Narcos, in which he played the definitive version of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, this movie – which knocked Avatar off the top spot of the Brazillian box office – is worth a look.

I can't remember exactly what recommended me to see this movie considering it's a sequel, but just like Narcos it's a scary, violent and angry thriller about bad people taking advantage of a corrupt system to fortify their riches and the bloodshed that ensues when their positions are threatened.

The plot itself is fairly labyrinthine and just a few weeks after watching it it's hard to remember exactly who everyone is and what they have to do with each other, but it's more about the tone, and sometime Narcos director José Padilha at the helm wrangles something that has the uniquely South American crime drama feel we've gradually become used to since City of God.

Nascimento (Moura) seems like the only honest cop left on the entire South American continent as he returns to the state police force he apparently cleaned up in the last film. His former wife is now married to political rights activist Fraga, and when Nascimento presides over a prison riot that goes against his orders, seeing several of the scummy inmates shot dead, he emerges a national hero thanks to his tough stance.

Fraga uses the incident as a platform to become a powerful political figure, railing against the system in the press and threatning to undo the delicate web Nascimento is spinning to capture the big fish.

He knows (as do we, if we've seen any movie depicting political authority in the last century) that the rot goes right to the top, and the rest of the story deals with his efforts to root out and dislodge the dirty cops that burrow themselves into the favelas to do the same extortion as the drug gangs they previously deposed.

For many viewers it won't really be about the story but the thrills, chases, shoot-outs and action. But the script (by Padilha and his collaborators) and the direction give it more emotional weight than most films of the genre.

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