EIFF 2011 - ELITE SQUAD 2: THE ENEMY WITHIN Review
José Padilha's 2007 film Elite Squad was a tough, gritty and frankly badass crime/action film that told of the dangerous, drug-filled slums of Rio De Janeiro and the special police force unit BOPE (aka the "Elite Squad") who were called in when the regular cops couldn't deal with the mess.
Elite Squad 2 is not exactly a necessary sequel per se but there was enough gas left in the tank from the first one to make this worthwhile. However, while Elite Squad 2 carries over some of the "badassery" of the first one it is a lot less fun, pushing the dangerous slum angle to the side and choosing instead to bring the political backdrop to center stage this time around.
The compelling leading man Wagner Moura returns as the Lt. Colonel Nascimento, leader of the Elite Squad. But after a bloody prison riot his team responded to he is transferred/promoted to the head of the corrupt militia's security force, in an attempt to get him off the streets so that the corrupt police can carry on with their dirty work. Needless to say Nascimento doesn't stay put.
Although some may argue it was only inevitable that things moved on from being solely set in the gritty slums of Rio - exploring the who and why behind the what and how - it does make for a less purely enjoyable experience than the first one. Whereas before there was just enough of the politics without going overboard, Elite Squad 2 too often gets lost in its own bulkiness.
However, when the volume is turned up to 11, so to speak, the sequences are on par with the previous film, with plenty of chasing and bullet spraying - just what you want and expect from this type of a film. Excessive and overstuffed, this is a bit of disappointment when compared to the first film. But there's more than enough there for those who enjoyed the City of God-esque world last time around.