Elite Squad (2007) Poster


User Reviews

Add a Review
109 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Amazingly good... and horrifying
lurple12 November 2007
Tropa de Elite is an amazingly good film; by turns brutally real and horrifyingly hilarious.

It claims to be based on a true story and I find that sadly believable. The main plot revolves around the captain of an elite police unit trying to find a replacement for himself, while dealing with the birth of his child and the horrendous stress of his job, and a mission to clear out a dangerously violent slum.

There are no wholly good people in the movie, and it's frighteningly easy to compare some of what goes on to things happening in the USA (and other places) today. That said, the system of government and policing portrayed comes across as so amazingly inept and awful that it's almost like something straight out of a nightmarish sci-fi dystopia.

If I had to compare it to other movies, it comes off as a cross between Brazil, Office Space, and Full Metal Jacket. Not for the weak of stomach, and you may find yourself greatly disagreeing with the ideals of various groups portrayed (which I believe is part of the point), but I would be enormously surprised if this movie doesn't make you think and give you something to talk about.
203 out of 242 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Holy mother of corruption and truculence!!!
Diego Moita17 October 2007
"City of God" was just a perfect movie. "Elite Squad" goes beyond that; it's a WTF movie.

Brutal realism, terrific acting (Wagner Moura... wow), brilliant script and plot, precise edition, unforgettable quotes... This movie is just insanely good.

If you live in a developed country you'll probably think this is just another thriller. For anyone living in a 3rd country it's way more than that: it's a brutal picture of our degradation and corruption, a revelation that runs over you like a truck.

The most striking aspect about the movie is how clearly it shows how everyone is at the same time guilty and victim in the whole war against drugs: the do-gooders NGOs, the politicians, the corrupt police and the not-corrupt but truculent "Elite Squad". It shows it precisely but with sense of humor and very smartly. In this war, everyone that proclaim to have moral and values is actually hiding skeletons in the closet. It's all a story of gangsters against gangsters in a degraded society.
172 out of 215 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An X-Ray of Rio de Janeiro Police Forces and Part of the Brazilian Society
Claudio Carvalho27 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In 1997, before the visit of the pope to Rio de Janeiro, Captain Nascimento (Wagner Moura) from the elite squad BOPE (Special Police Operation Battalion) is assigned to eliminate the risks of the drug dealers in a dangerous slum nearby where the pope intends to be lodged. Captain Nascimento is trying to find a man to replace him because his wife is pregnant and he intends to quit the command and become a trainer of the new recruits. Meanwhile, the two idealistic friends Neto (Caio Junqueira) and Matias (André Ramiro) join the Military Police force expecting to become honest policemen and fight the criminals. However, they see only corruption, lack of competence and efficiency, manipulation of data and stupid bureaucracy in the Military Police, and after a serious incident in the Morro da Babilônia, they decide to join the BOPE. The lives of Capitain Nascimento, Neto and Matias are entwined along the next months, first in the tough training period and then in action against drug dealers. Nascimento believes that Neto could be his substitute, but his impulsive attitudes jeopardize his choice. Later, the intelligent Matias seems to be the correct choice, but he needs to prove that he has heart.

"Tropa de Elite" is the most impressive and realistic movie I have ever seen about the police forces in Rio de Janeiro and the role of the society in Brazil. In a city surrounded by more than seven hundred slums, actually lands without law and ruled by drug lords, this movie depicts the corruption of dirty policemen, the incorrect behavior of part of the society and the importance of the BOPE, a team of well trained men that can be compared to the American SWAT. The narrative in off of Captain Nascimento follows his saga, showing an obstinate man divided between his professionalism and love for his career and his family; Neto, an impulsive and honest military policeman, but not smart to be a leader; and Matias, who is studying in law school and is very intelligent and also honest, but is not totally committed with his responsibilities of policeman. The story is so realistic that seems to be a documentary with scenes very well choreographed. The direction of José Padilha is simply outstanding, using a magnificent screenplay and excellent actors and actresses. In an inevitable comparison with "Cidade de Deus" ("City of God"), these movies complement each other. "Cidade de Deus" discloses the lives of criminals, and "Tropa de Elite" of policemen and part of the society. This movie should be nominated to the Oscar, but unfortunately what the Academy usually selects does not correspond to the best of the cinema. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Tropa de Elite" ("Elite Squad")

Obs: (a) On 29 September 2007, I saw this outstanding movie again with a group of friends and family.

(b) "Tropa de Elite" was awarded with the Golden Bear of the Berlin Festival on 16 February 2008.

(c) The DVD is scheduled to be released on 28 February 2008.

(d) Many expressions used in this movie ("Aspira" ("Ensign"), "Bota no Saco" ("Put in the Plastic Bag"), "Pede Para Sair" ("Ask to Get Out"), "Você é Moleque Não é Caveira" ("You Are a Kid, not a Skull") etc.) have been incorporated in Brazilian Popular Culture.

(e) "Bota no Saco" ("Put in the Plastic Bag") the Brazilian Commission that has not selected this movie to dispute a nomination to the Oscar in the Best Foreign Language category.
138 out of 172 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Turned out really, really well
jacob-noergaard23 November 2008
Having seen "Cidade de Deus" and thoroughly enjoyed it (though it is a grim tale), I was at first having high hopes for "Tropa de Elite". Then I thought that it could never reach the same high standards, and my hopes were lowered a great deal.

About 3 months ago I happened to see about 15 minutes of the movie, and that lowered my hopes even more. How wrong I was to judge such a great movie on what must have been an unfortunate 15 minutes.

I won't go into detail about the story, but it is both believable and compelling. Like "Cidade..." this is no fairy tale. It's the world as it is. No more, no less. Of course, there might not be that many guns blazing in reality, but I'd reckon this isn't very far off.

We feel the pain, the lack of morale and the despair and hopelessness. Photography is spot on, the acting is both fantastic and realistic. "Tropa de Elite" never went into the big theaters here in Denmark which is rather unfortunate, since it's a true gem. Instead we get loads of mainstream crap. Not to sound arrogant, I watch loads of mainstream movies too (voluntarily, even), but it's movies like this that made me love movies as fondly as I do.

Do yourself a favour. Get this on DVD. See it. Feel the pain. Immerge yourself in the desperate world. Then, after it's all over, enjoy your life, a life that will seem much, much brighter after this.
22 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This movie will make you think, then it will make you angry, then you will want to fight.
Gustavo Moura25 August 2007
The movie tells the story of BOPE, which is equivalent to the SWAT in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Only difference is that, in Rio, the police is so corrupt, that they often must fight for themselves.

The movie has action - a lot of action-, and it also touches on deep sociological problems that plague the city to these days. It's a great compliment to City of God and, in my opinion, even better. City of God shows how the drug problem started in Rio. This movie shows where the city is now.

Vagner Moura is perfect in his role. He's a great good-bad guy. The movie is brilliant.
229 out of 308 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
BOPE makes SWAT look like a bunch of girl scouts
nvillesanti9 June 2010
After watching the amazing movie, City of God, a few years ago I just wanted to see more. Although Tropa de Elite has the same raw look of City of God, is different in content.

Tropa de Elite is about a group of Rio de Janeiro cops that grow tired of the system and declare war against crime and corruption and literally aren't taking any prisoners to the point that you just can't help but cheer for BOPE no matter their brutal methods of interrogation.

The photography is stunning and the action is extreme and realistic. You have to see this movie more than once because there is so much going in terms of plot and action that you might miss it. The story is well put together and the acting is as good as any, but what I liked the most was the sense of dread BOPE was able to inflict on the minds of criminals and corrupt cops. If you like City of God and City of Men, you will absolutely love Tropa de Elite. Highly recommended!
21 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
...Brilliantly fleshed out characters lifts the film from being trite after the 1000th gunshot.
crey01424 July 2008
Kinetically filmed, "Tropa de Elite" reaches the dizzying heights of Fernando Meirelles' "Cidade de Deus", as not so much as a photocopy but more as a cinematic twin brother. Film focuses on the brutal, abet necessary foundations of Tropa de Elite, a one hundred strong company of men who swings into action when normal police gets held up themselves. Intense amount of corruption and violence is present here, however brilliantly fleshed out characters lifts the film from being trite after the 1000th gunshot.

The film being presented in two parts, we are indulged into an extended prologue to get acquainted with the protagonists: Captain Nascimento, feeling the stress as a 0-1, is on the lookout for a substitute between André Matias, a law student cum policeman struggling with his own identity and Neto, the ideal candidate as his replacement who's violent and relentless to a fault. Accompanied by a sometimes distracting voice over, the audience is given proper time to find themselves immersed in the narrative and characters. Even if the film's screenplay explodes every second of its almost 2-hour running time, personality development is not left on the back seat, to much relief.

Andre Ramiro's performance as André Matias is pitch perfect. Practically the film's moral backbone, he elucidates the distinction between pretending to know and knowing. The best scenes in the picture not involves scenes of brazen violent explosions but his rationalizing and character driven moments. The film uses his character to deter the judgmental audience from pretending to know but reminds them they know nothing.

Padilha is in control of the film until its very last shot; able to summon his own elite squad of cinematographers and sound technicians. The production values are top notch indeed, as the cinema also explodes with every bang and boom. Filmed in cinema verite, it gathers up inspiration from previous war-themed films – from the tones and hues of the mentioned "Cidade de Deus" to Alfonso Cuaron's blood splatter on the screen technique from "Children of Men". With the sound and images pushing the audience to its nauseating edge, full immersion is delivered without breaking a sweat.

Comparison to "Cidade de Deus" should be complementary, as "Elite" tackles the impotent depiction of policemen by the former. In fact, it acts as its contemporary, acting as if it exists on the same universe. It demands merit in its own right though, as the film is well staged like its depiction of training the elite, making it an involving exercise, not seen since Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket".

Immersive, hypnotic and engaging, "Tropa de Elite" guarantees Padilha to be noticed on a more mainstream circuit. Previously delivering "Onibus 174", also tackling the same themes of nurture and consequence as a catalyst to violence, he is able to comment on sensitive themes without being too preachy and also able to wrap it in a well produced package. Film is definitely an above average fare and is essential to be experienced on the big screen, just for its sound design alone.
19 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great Movie
safinahmed16 February 2008
This is one hell of a movie. I don't like to give 10 ratings to movies, because it's hard to find a movie that is excellent, but this one is.

While you watch the movie it's unavoidable to compare it to City of God (Cidade de Deus), and until the middle of the movie I was thinking to my self that City Of God was a better movie then this one, but when this movie ends and I summed everything I saw, it's was harder to choose one, but I believe this one is better, for several reasons.

First of all this movie has a great story, and focuses on real life issues, I'm not from Brazil, but I know some of this stuff is true. This story has emotion, feelings, twists, action, romance and even comedy for those who understand Portuguese I would say "Bota ai na conta do Papa" is a real funny statement. One of the things I loved about this movie was the acting, where Wagner Moura does one hell of a job, as a Captain trying to find a substitute so he can leave his job and be with his family. I wouldn't say I'm surprised because Brazilians are great actors, but still, I loved it.

In conclusion, if you like action, and like City of God, then you should definitely watch this movie.
24 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
What a movie!
synthetic081222 February 2009
Wow! What a movie! It's breathtaking! I've seen it yesterday at Belgrades Film Festival, and I'm still thinking about it. It's very raw and very true, so powerful!

It's about life in poor areas of Rio De Janeiro. It's about everyday life that most of us can not imagine for a minute, but on the other hand, the characters in this movie live this kind of life almost without wanting to live different.

When the movie is over it makes you think about what is the price of living, and what is the price for your life, and the life of people around you.

The camera and editing are great, and the actors gave their best...

Wow! What a movie...
11 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A hell of a story...but not the whole story
debblyst21 October 2007
"Tropa de Elite" isn't merely one more Brazilian film on urban violence; it's a cathartic socio-cultural phenomenon of almost unprecedented proportions in Brazil, the omnipresent theme on TV talk shows, newspapers articles, bars and dinner tables. Prior to its theatrical release this October, "Tropa" was seen by an estimated record 11 million people who bought pirate DVD copies or illegally downloaded it on the net (the biggest Brazilian box-office success in the last 25 years was "2 Filhos de Francisco" with 5,5 million tickets sold).

The reaction is passionately polarized: some call it the best Brazilian movie since "City of God" -- a definite influence here, in the cinematography, editing and screenplay structure, with an omniscient narrator and use of mixed chronology -- exposing the endemic corruption of Rio de Janeiro's police force and the "unorthodox" methods used by BOPE (the self-called "incorruptible" elite squad of Rio's military police force, created in 1978 and inspired by the U.S. SWAT) that include torture and shoot-first-ask-later modus operandi in the ultra-violent, ever-growing drug war in Rio's favelas. Others have publicly attacked it as fascist in its glorification of BOPE, its sadistic depiction of torture and the reductionist, simple-minded vision of the complex issues involving violence/ drugs/police corruption in Rio.

Director José Padilha and co-writer Rodrigo Pimentel (a former BOPE captain who left the squad for disagreeing with its praxis) had collaborated in the extraordinary "Bus 174", a multi-faceted documentary on Rio's violence. In "Tropa", they controversially chose to give us a deliberately biased vision of the problem: from the start we're stuck with one man, the overstressed, rebellious, self-righteous Capt Nascimento (Wagner Moura) in his journey into becoming a psychopathic sadist and hot-blooded killer, who believes drug traffic is caused by the druggie middle-class bourgeoisie (as if the poor didn't do drugs!) and claims the solution is to kill all traffickers. To Nascimento, corruption is abominable; torture isn't.

Nascimento is the film's absolute protagonist, narrator, commentator and "truth-puker". In his mind, all non-elite policemen are corrupt and incompetent, all charity NGOs in the favelas are cover-up fraudulent enterprises, all college students are useless double-faced potheads, and legal procedures are an inefficient waste of time. He's nearer to the traffickers' violent, revenge-based, lawless ethics than he's ever able to realize.

"There's nothing wrong with shooting people if you shoot the right people", used to say Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry back in the 1970s, and it could well be Capt. Nascimento's motto. He's a vigilante in uniform, in the tradition of the executioners played by Eastwood, Bronson, Stallone and 24 Hours' Jack Bauer; he's the heir to the 1970s' Brazilian military regime know-how on torture. Yet, the film tries hard at "humanizing" Nascimento: his wife's pregnant, his marriage falters, he's moved to tears by the suffering of a mother who lost her son in the traffic war, he's in medication for his panic attacks. AND he's trying to save the POPE's life, no less!

All the other characters are just rough sketches or caricatures. The one character who might be the classical "narrator/observer" (like Buscapé/Rocket in "City of God") is the idealist, Foucault-reading aspiring police officer Mathias (though it's hard to believe an aspiring officer could afford to attend Rio's most expensive law school). But Mathias, too, is finally co-opted by the brainwashing "Full-Metal-Jacket"-like BOPE training that changes him into an amoral beast fueled with rage.

Padilha says he wanted to portray Nascimento as a monster, and that audiences who are hailing Nascimento as a "hero" and BOPE as a "model" institution have caught him by surprise -- oh, really? Padilha is probably being sarcastic, naive or silly: everybody knows movie vigilante cops have been consistently idolized the world over (and co- writer Pimentel has publicly disagreed, stating the "Tropa" is clearly pro-BOPE). The graphic, sadistic scenes of torture -- supposedly meant to inspire disgust -- make the delight of a large vigilante-minded part of the audience. And Wagner Moura's extraordinary, scary performance as Nascimento is unsettling: we can't dismiss him as a stupid fascist the way we dismissed inarticulate stiffs like Bronson, Seagal or Stallone. The fact is that there's now a BOPE cult-following, with BOPE's logo (a skull pierced by pistols and knives) reproduced on t-shirts and underwear, BOPE officers being cheered in the streets in their armored "glory", and young kids (from all social classes) mimicking the film's "bag-in-the-head torture" as a new bullying style.

Militarists and pacifists will hardly change sides after the watching the film; militarists will have multiple orgasms and pacifists will cringe in horror. The filmmakers aren't interested in seriously discussing the drug issue (legalization is not even mentioned as an option). Nor in exposing Rio's drug traffic's multi-fingered interconnections, the zillion-dollar, highly organized international business involving farmers, money-washing executives, chemistry labs, gun-runners, bankers, politicians, accountants, lawyers, transport systems, etc. Nor in showing the real victims: the majority of the favela inhabitants, who aren't involved in the drug business but have to live under its rules, mere "extras" whose fate (in movies and in real life) is to be used, humiliated, segregated or, worse, wounded/killed by random bullets from BOTH policemen and traffickers.

"Tropa" is a must-see film, but it's misleading and entrapping: by opting for an "open", "what would YOU do?" ending (probably influenced by the breathtaking finale of "Paradise Now"), the filmmakers demands us to take sides about a very, VERY complex issue they've shown us only ONE angle of. "Tropa" is cinematically dazzling, but so physically and ideologically nauseating you'll need an antidote -- be sure to also watch the faceted, influential documentary "Notícias de uma Guerra Particular" and be aware of many other angles to a terrible reality that plagues not only Rio, but most of Third World's chaotic, no-man's-land, way out-of- control big cities.
153 out of 216 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews