An intense and gripping picture from Brazil which is heavy on social conscience and political satire, Jose Padilha (who also wrote the script) directs with a definite panache and visceral quality akin to fellow films of Brazilian cinema lately.
After a prison riot that goes wrong under his watch, Nascimento (Wagner Moura) is swept into a political dispute concerning government officials and paramilitary groups - the situation is not helped by the family matters as his ex-wife (Maria Ribeiro) is engaged to a fool, Fraga (Irandhir Santos) who is running for political office, which could endanger his position if elected.
There is plenty of violence and gunplay on a level with that employed by Michael Mann in his seminal Heat and any Tony Scott film. Padilha is very clever, he has pretty much directed a typical B-class script involving political shenanigans and backstabbing which would be also ran fare if released by Hollywood, but the sheer thrill seeking of the piece, helped by great production values and a suitably entertaining cast elevates the film to a respectable spectacle.
It is all here - bent cops, cops that are good but have trouble on the inside, cops that are bad, cops that cannot control emotions, bent political officials, serpentine plotting and strands that all come together in that great Latin American tradition of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (21 Grams, Babel) - fans of City of God and The Wire will feel right at home in this mesh and mess of law and order and chaos.
Padilha directed the respected documentary Bus 174 (2002) which had a close-camerawork and MTV editing; the conviction with which he directs this sequel to 2007's Elite Squad puts it in that rare pantheon of films that are better than the original.
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is released on DVD from Aim Publicity on 26th December (Boxing Day)
Watch the trailer here