Review: 'Elite Squad'

Thriller set in Brazilian slum captures brutal methods of Rio's SWAT-like cops, but offers little beyond its violence.

A standard crime exploitation thriller dressed up as something important, Brazilian director José Padilha's "Elite Squad" pokes and prods the viewer to watch the brutal, indiscriminate methods of Rio's SWAT-like cops and then demands only one conclusion: That cops in Rio's drug-infested slums must do what they do and if that means rampant point-blank executions, so be it. So bloody and vile that you'll want to take a shower after it's over, the film halfheartedly balances its message by depicting a worn-down Elite Squad cop (Wagner Moura) leading regular and usually violent sweeps with the story of two rookies (played by André Ramiro and Caio Junqueira) who learn that do-gooder liberalism doesn't work. Given that Brazil, as a Latin American moviemaking powerhouse, steadily produces vibrant, vital films of real impact and humanity, it's a crime itself that "Elite Squad" – inexplicable winner of the Berlin film festival's top Golden Bear prize – may be the only Brazilian film that American audiences see this year. Grade: D (Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, and drug content.)

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK