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Review: Tropa De Elite – Elite Squad (2007)

Director: José Padilha | 115 minutes | action, drama, thriller, crime | Actors: Wagner Moura, Caio Junqueira, André Ramiro, Milhem Cortaz, Luiz Gonzaga de Almeida, Fernanda de Freitas, Bruno Delia, Marcelo Escorel, André Felipe, Thelmo Fernandes, Emerson Gomes, Paulo Hamilton, Bernardo Jablonsky, Fábio Lago, Daniel Lentini, Fernanda Machado, Thiago Mendonça, Alexandre Mofatti, Erick Oliveira, Otto Jr, Maria Ribeiro, André Santinho, Tenente Renan Patrick Santos, Tinho, Ricardo Sodré, Thogun, Marcelo Valle,

Tropa de Elite is set in 1997 in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Lawlessness and corruption are the norm there. Hundreds of thousands live in the favelas in extremely poor and violent conditions. These slums are completely under the control of heavily armed drug gangs that have their own territory. The police are corrupt, play the game with the drug lords and allow drug trafficking in exchange for corruption money. An ordinary cop can hardly survive if he does not play this game. The story of the film is told by a police officer from the BOPE elite corps in the much-used voice-over form. As an elite corps, the BOPE is not corrupt and fights corruption almost as ruthlessly as the drug lords run the drug trade in the favelas. Nascimento (Wagner Moura) looks back on his career and tells his story. He has been involved in this situation for a number of years and wants to stop. He is on the verge of a burnout due to the enormous stress of the constant violence. In addition, his wife is pregnant, she wants him to stop. So there are also tensions at home. He constantly swallows pills to stop him and looks for a successor. The problem is that the Pope comes to visit and also wants to visit the slum. This puts enormous pressure on the police force and explains why the police units want to reclaim power in the slums using a lot of violence. In addition, his wife is pregnant, she wants him to stop. So there are also tensions at home. He constantly swallows pills to stop him and looks for a successor. The problem is that the Pope comes to visit and also wants to visit the slum. This puts enormous pressure on the police force and explains why the police units want to reclaim power in the slums using a lot of violence. In addition, his wife is pregnant, she wants him to stop. So there are also tensions at home. He constantly swallows pills to stop him and looks for a successor. The problem is that the Pope comes to visit and also wants to visit the slum. This puts enormous pressure on the police force and explains why the police units want to reclaim power in the slums using a lot of violence.

Two young officers, Neto (Caio Junqueira) and Matias (André Ramiro), want to join the elite special force, they are fed up with the constant corruption they deal with in their day-to-day police work. Tropa de Elite tells us the story of their training and the that the BOPE is waging with the gangs. No one is spared, many deaths occur. In any case, it is impossible for the ordinary police to penetrate the favelas without ‘permission’. Impressive are the images of the heavy training that the BOPE candidates undergo, the used drilling methods are known from other film stories but remain inhumanly heavy. As a sideline in the scenario, a romance with an employee of an aid organization active in the slums has been built in, which in itself adds little value to the story. Matias meets Maria (Fernanda Machado) while studying law at university. The later discovery that he is not a student, but a policeman, obviously means that he can no longer go into the slums to visit her there.

‘Tropa de Elite’ was filmed under harsh conditions. During the shooting, members of the film crew were kidnapped by gang members. With the slums as filming locations, shooting was dangerous and had to be negotiated in advance with the local drug lords. Film equipment and weapons were also stolen. Central to the story is always the battle and the fights with the gangs. As a result, the film contains the necessary confronting scenes. The fast editing and the restless camerawork make the pace of the film fast. The difficult living conditions in the favelas are impressively depicted. For the lover of hard films there is therefore a lot to enjoy. Throughout the cast there is a strong acting.

‘Tropa de Elite’ surprisingly won the Golden Bear 2008 in the Berlin Film Festival. The film broke visitor records in Brazil, but also caused a lot of controversy. The film would glorify violence and paint a one-sided picture. Either way, this film gives a highly realistic impression of the being waged in the favelas. The violence cannot be denied and is therefore realistic, about a thousand people are killed in shootings every year. At the same time, the film somewhat praises the brutal BOPE actions and the sometimes brutal countermeasures, apparently as the only possible answer in these circumstances. As a result, nuances are sometimes somewhat lacking. A poignant and intimidating film that pours out raw reality unadorned and sometimes with little nuance. Confronting, hectic, shocking, blood-curdling and exciting!

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