Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
(Tropa de Elite 2 – O Inimigo Agora é Outro)

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (Tropa de Elite 2 – O Inimigo Agora é Outro)
Made in: Brazil
Language: Portuguese
Director: José Padilha
Starring: Wagner Moura, Irandhir Santos, Maria Ribeiro, Sandro Rocha, André Ramiro, Pedro Van-Held, André Mattos, Adriano Garib, Julio Adrião, Seu Jorge
Year: 2010

Synopsis: The story begins several years after the first Elite Squad film. Wagner Moura reprises his role as Roberto Nascimento, the story's protagonist. Promoted to Colonel, he's now in charge of Rio De Janeiro's Special Police Operations Battalion, or BOPE (Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais).

When a prison riot breaks out, Diogo Fraga (Irandhir Santos), a naïve but idealistic professor and human rights activist, is called upon by local government officials to intervene and negotiate with Beirada (Seu Jorge), the main perpetrator. Nascimento and his team have the place locked down and surrounded, and he butts heads with Fraga on how to resolve the deteriorating situation.

The disastrous outcome thrusts Fraga into the political scene, and he is eventually elected as a legislator. Although Nascimento takes the fall for the botched operation, he's hailed as a hero by the citizens as a guy willing to stand up (and shoot) the criminal thugs plaguing the city's slums.

Realizing this, the governor (Julio Adrião) appoints Nascimento as head of police intelligence in order to save face.

Seizing an opportunity to wage war on all thugs and drug dealers in the slums of Rio De Janeiro, Nascimento eradicates scores of criminals...only to find that the massive expansion of unchecked law enforcement has created more problems than he anticipated.

Corrupt police officials and government cronies prove to be far more dangerous than the criminal gangs, and the situation quickly gets messy. Things get to a point where Nascimento and Fraga find themselves being pulled deeper into a sea of political violence that threatens their lives, their loved ones, and their ideals...

The Good: Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is every bit as intense and hard-hitting as its predecessor. The film takes on a different angle, and therefore has a different feel. But the emotional impact is still highly effective.

Wagner Moura is again brilliant as Colonel Nascimento, and plays the role with a steady balance between vulnerability and total bad-assery. André Ramiro returns as Nascimento's protégé, André Matias. The development of his character continues, and adds a lot of depth to the story.

The villains, led by Sandro Rocha and Milhem Cortaz (both also reprising their roles from the previous film), are believably sleazy and dirty.

The Bad: Irandhir Santos, as the idealistic Diogo Fraga, plays his role effectively. But his character arc doesn't quite gel.

And with a much bigger cast and more subplots, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within does tend to slow down in parts and almost becomes a little confusing.

Who would like this film: Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is for fans of the first film. It's a highly emotional, realistic, and overall thrilling drama full of great acting and unpredictable plot turns.

The theme of political corruption and police brutality are (unfortunately) universal, and I'm sure that Rio De Janeiro isn't the only place where problems addressed by the film occur.

This is a violent movie with some shocking moments, so it's not for the faint of heart. Expect to be emotionally exhausted by the time the credits roll. Although I personally enjoyed the first Elite Squad film more, director José Padilha deserves credit for taking a bold and difficult approach to this successful sequel.

(3 and 1/2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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