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September 03, 2008

Elite Squad

Elite After the humane tenor of writer/director Jose Padilha's insightful documentary "Bus 174" (2002), it's surprising that the filmmaker's follow-up is an all-out, right-wing exploitation movie about Rio de Janeiro's brutal BOPE (Special Police Operations Battalion) squad of assassins that view all social strata of Brazilians as human detritus. Gratuitous violence obliterates any pretense of dramatic arc or character development as a mentally-unraveling BOPE captain, Nascimento (Wagner Moura), trains a group of recruits from which he hopes to find a replacement for himself. Rampant police corruption feeds directly into the perpetual violence in the favelas where local drug lords kill with the same impunity as the cops that regularly arrive in the ghetto with Browning machine guns blazing. Hotheaded Neto (Caio Junqueira) and softhearted law student Andre Matias (Andre Ramiro) are Nascimento's top recruit prospects, if only one of them will show the mandatory killer instinct for the job. The film's message is that all of society is corrupt, so it doesn't matter who gets killed. It’s a propaganda movie that shows no empathy for its characters or for its audience.

(The Weinstein Company) Rated R, 115 mins. (C-) (Two Stars)

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