A fiery sense of citizen outrage singes the jolting action in Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, as Brazilian cops, criminals, and politicians screw one another over in an eternal struggle for power and loot. This blistering-mad-as-hell sequel to the award-winning Elite Squad (2007), directed and co-written by documentary-trained José Padilha (Bus 174), marks the return of Captain Nascimento (Wagner Moura), now the head of Rio’s special police ops at a time when police action during a prison riot among feuding gangs ends in a massacre. Human rights activists are outraged by the police brutality; citizens are sick and tired of drug gangs wrecking their neighborhoods; politicians in an election year are looking for symbols and co-opt an uneasy Nascimento as the image of a law-and-order guy; dirty cops and dirty pols are looking for kickbacks; and crap-stirring media types are looking to make noise too.
The pace is quick, the violence is rough, and the visual style is documentary as Padilha hammers home his point: Someone is forever in the pocket of someone else as The System constantly adapts to protect itself. In South America, The Enemy Within is the most popular movie of all time. For good reason, this bombshell is Brazil’s foreign-language Oscar entry. A-