115 minutes

An incorruptible Rio de Janeiro SWAT cop is promoted to an institutional desk job where he realises the extent to which political corruption has infiltrated the state system.

As someone once said, "since when are second helpings about necessity?". Well, Brazilian director José Padilha would beg to differ in returning to his box-office hit Elite Squad for a second helping, as he claims there was still a lot left to say. A bona fide phenomenon in 2007 Brazil and a controversial Golden Bear winner in Berlin 2008, that film followed the special police teams sent to clean up the Rio de Janeiro favelas from drug dealers and drew attention to the complex, powder-keg situation the city was sitting on, under the guise of a gung-ho actioner somewhere between City of God and an Hollywood action-thriller.
For this sequel, Padilha reconvened the key cast and crew of the original to upgrade the tale out of SWAT recruiting poster heroics into more nuanced political thriller territory (blink and you'll miss the wink to genre stalwart Costa-Gavras, president of the jury that awarded Elite Squad the Golden Bear), as incorruptible cop Nascimento (Wagner Moura) is promoted to a nominally powerful desk job only to find himself blindsided by the unsavoury connections of Brazilian politicians.
Padilha directs as nervously and edgily as ever, but is blindsided himself by the conventional, cursory TV-level plotting that was also the original's weak spot (Nascimento's family troubles are straight out of TV Drama 101); and despite his sincerity in moving the story to the next level, there's a sense he can neither bring anything new to the table nor make his samba-flavoured take on the political thriller singular enough to warrant the attention. While there's no denying the technical proficiency, and this sequel actually broke all box-office records in Latin American history, this is really a case of unnecessary second helpings.
© 2011 Jorge Mourinha. all rights reserved by the author

Starring Wagner Moura, Maria Ribeiro, Milhem Cortaz, Irandhir Santos, Seu Jorge, Taini Müller, Sandro Rocha, André Mattos; and André Ramiro.
Directed by José Padilha; produced by Marcos Prado, mr. Padilha; screenplay by Bráulio Mantovani, mr. Padilha, from a story by mr. Padilha, Rodrigo Pimentel, mr. Mantovani; music by Pedro Bromfman; director of photography (Megacolor, Cinecolor), Lula Carvalho; art director, Tiago Marques; costume designer, Cláudia Kopke; film editor, Daniel Resende.
A Zazen Produções film, in co-production with Feijão Filmes, Riofilme, Globo Filmes; sponsored by Claro; with the support of Agência Nacional para o Cinema. (World sales, IM Global.)
Screened: Berlin Film Festival 2011, Panorama Special press screening, Cinestar Sony Center 3 (Berlin), February 11th 2011. 


Anonymous said…
Whoa, your reviews have jumped from about a 50 word average to at least four times that! Any reason why (not that I'm complaining)?
Jorge Mourinha said…
Cos I felt like it? :)

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