Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tropa de Elite (The Elite Squad) makes Judge Dredd look like a pussy!

I'm very particular about what foreign language films I watch. I prefer ones that have so much action on screen that you don't realise you have to read what they're saying. I knew however that I was going to like Tropa de Elite because the poster consisted of a lone BOPE officer holding an MP5. I knew I was going to really enjoy this movie when I discovered their logo was basically a skull with a knife stabbed through it superimposed over crossed pistols. No "to serve and protect" or "guardian's of the peace" here.

Rio De Janeiro is a crime trouble spot, especially in the Northern favelas or slums. Homicide is a daily occurrence and with less than 3% of murders solved it becomes obvious why when watching this movie:

Colonel Otávio [Commanding Officer]: Trainee, you're gonna do this report again. Look at this: "Body was found at the beach". Deaths at the beach, my son, are tallied as "drownings".

André Matias [the Trainee]: But Commandant, the body had a bullet perforation.

Colonel Otávio: [shouting] And are you a coroner now?

The regular police are ill equipped to handle the level of crime especially in the favelas. Adding to that: corruption is almost a prerequisite for being a police officer. The drug traffickers pay the police to turn a blind eye and merchants pay the police not to tow or ticket their customer's cars. The BOPE [Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais, or Special Police Operations Battalion] is a little different in contrast. Their officers are both uncorruptable and highly trained in weapons and tactics, training so brutal that I'd imagine even a Navy S.E.A.L. would wince and maiming or serious injury was a regular occurrence. The BOPE's method of interrogation to flush out the drug lords is to shoot a few members of a gang dead and place a plastic bag over the faces of the survivors or threaten to ram a lubricated broom handle where the sun don't shine until they talk! (Females and young teenage gang members are not given special treatment either). Yes, they're the good guys.

The movie presents an intimate look at the Rio’s vast and intricate web of corruption and the sheer brutality of both the drug lords and the police force. The narrative is told through the perspective of Captain Nascimento, a BOPE squad leader who is hoping to train a replacement so he can leave the unit and spend time with his wife and newborn son. Nascimento sees potential in two of the force’s newest recruits, Neto and Matias, childhood friends - one who quick on the trigger, the other is an idealist. Together they are the perfect replacement, but Nascimento can only have one.

Final Verdict: I wish there were more police like these guys. Why waste time arresting and incarcerating people you know are guilty? Isn't it better just to shoot them? Yes it is- and Tropa de Elite do it in Rio.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this film too. One thing i like about Elite Squad is that it provides not only a very cool story (Captain Nascimento is Judge Dredd+ Chuck Norris+Robocop) but also a full picture of crime and corruption in Rio.

Did you watch the sequel, by the way? It is very good too but it is more like a drama.