I probably wouldn’t have watched it if I had known that, in the original Portuguese, it is called Tropa de Elite 2 – O Inimigo Agora é Outro. Meaning, I was watching it without the benefit of watching Elite Squad 1. In fact, the director considers it to the be third part of a trilogy, starting with the documentary Bus 174.
The three films are critiques of the government’s actions which help to create and sustain poverty. Having not seen the first two, I’m left to take the third one on its own. Ostensibly, the film is action/crime thriller, narrated by the commander of the “Elite Squad,” a SWAT-like force called the Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE). His view is from the anti-drug, pro-law-and-order perspective and the enemy, he states from the outset, is the leftist agitators and politicians who enable the drug dealers.
In many ways, I was reminded of an article about Robocop that I had just read. While the BOPE’s members and tactics are played straight, the politicians and other corrupt officials are played humorously. Elite Squad is a lot more transparent, however, and it didn’t take me too long to see that the movie’s perspective differed from that that of the narrator. It may have been even a faster transition had I already seen the original Elite Squad.
The film was immensely popular in Brazil and has been critically acclaimed here in the U.S. However, for the American (norte) viewer, without the context in Brazilian politics, it probably doesn’t have the depth and complexity that made it so popular at home. It is still and entertaining and funny action movie.
Possibly on par with Robocop.