ELITE SQUAD: THE ENEMY WITHIN doesn’t waste any time blasting off, and doesn’t blow a minute throughout its 115. Don’t let that unprepossessing title—which sounds like some bottom-drawer straight-to-vid junk—put you off. This 2010 Brazilian dazzler is the best crime film since Zodiac, and can easily stand in a lineup with Heat. For that matter, I’d say ‘Marty & Quentin’ need to put extra guards on the shipment, because Jose Padilha shows World-Class chops as a director.
A follow-up to his 2007 effort (titled simply Elite Squad), this put me in mind of the stellar American TV series The Wire, in the way it deftly shows corruption affecting all levels of society, in this case Rio de Janeiro. That is, The Wire if it was jam-packed with action and not stopping for a breath—with none of it overdone or gratuitous to boot.
The cast and their acting, Padilha’s audacious piloting, the keen script, the editing, score, social-political balance, no-holds barred commentary, its scathing portrait of officialdom, the utterly remorseless one-way ticket in the favelas: if there is a hole or fault in this movie, I didn’t see it.
Photography by Lula Carvalho, editing by Daniel Rezende, music by Pedro Bromfman. The most successful film ever in its home country. Cast: Wagner Moura, Irandhir Santos, Andre Ramiro, Andre Mattos (bravo!), Pedro Van-hel, Maria Ribeiro, Sandro Rocha, Milhem Cortaz and Taina Muller.