Elite Squad: The Enemy Within - DVD Review

'like the first film, the main joy of Elite Squad 2 comes from watching an honest character battle both the dishonest ones and his own internal beliefs'

The return of director José Padilha to the Elite Squad story is marked out by several very wise decisions by the Brazilian director. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within starts by bringing the first film's most interesting character, Lt. Colonel Nascimento (Wagner Moura) back into the fray, then makes an even better decision by markedly reducing the amount of time it allows him to spend narrating. The result is a slick-moving action flick with an intellectually sound grasp of the politics that surrounds its kinetic gun battles.

Nascimento is once again the conflicted heart of the film; he's doing well but is he unintentionally helping a new criminal element to succeed ahead of Rio's drug dealers? Like the first film, the main joy of Elite Squad 2 comes from watching an honest character battle both the dishonest ones and his own internal beliefs and feelings. The conflicts are set up externally within the opening half hour as new character Fraga (Irandhir Santos) is brought in to represent Nascimento's more liberal side. Some lazy scripting also has Fraga as the new partner of Nascimento's ex-wife but no matter, accept this and the film moves on with it as a concept more often than a character choice.

Structurally, Padilha again starts with the end and plays around with our expectations as much as possible. Nascimento is seen leaving a hospital but who's in there? Nascimento is seen in a bullet-riddled car but is he dead? It's a simple device but an effective one and - with a better managed plot when compared to Elite Squad - it works its delicate magic, increasingly getting you to ask questions about what you've seen as the narrative develops.

Moura again proves the highlight (although his in-character facial ticks - watch for the near-constant blinking - are a bit off-putting) and Nascimento's continued development is again the thing that keeps you watching but it's nice to see that, this time, the whole thing is wrapped in a significantly better-produced package. Highly enjoyable and, occasionally, searingly political.




Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is out in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray from Monday 26th December.

Look further...

'The film's key weakness is the use of Nascimento's voice-over. Largely simplistic and informal, it comes across as redundant to the energetic imagery which it recounts' - Andy Buckle's Film Emporium

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