Another day, another film, another Mondo Movie podcast recommendation.
Elite Squad centres on the perplexing, corrupt mentality of the Rio underworld. Captain Nascimento is a superior officer within an alternative police group which attempts to eradicate the slum land streets of drug pushers and the risk they can bring to the community, considering leaving the front line, Nascimento goes on a hunt to find his replacement, bad-ass law enforcer.
Although Nascimento’s running voiceover is authoritative, you grow increasingly tired with it being used as a cheap and ineffective way of rashly contextualising an otherwise simplistic storyline. This earnestly plain narrative is also outlived by the worryingly realist subject matter, with the political issues briefly skimmed over being left dormant without more than superficial scrutiny.
With the gruelling military training regime for the captain position, parallels with the superior first half of Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket training sequence are obvious. Similarly to Kubrick, Brazilian director José Padilha is able to unflinchingly illustrate the horrid nature of war in a totally graspable, even enjoyable fashion.
Controversially, the film has a broken moral compass and as an audience we don’t know whether to route for the pot-smoking students, drug pushers, domestic police force or SWAT team hunters. What is made explicitly clear that, in these harsh and dangerous conditions, violence is the only appropriate remedy to fend off more violence. This cyclical process, while not favoured, is presented as the only means of protection. Don’t trust anyone, don’t go anywhere, just sit in front of the TV and watch this entertaining crime drama instead.
PS – Before the trolls start troll-la-la-ing, the sequel, Elite Squad: The Enemy from Within (2010), is on my ones to watch. Pipe down now.