Tuesday, 20 September 2011

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Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within - SIFF 2011

Opinion: A-
Rarely do we see an action genre film with a great flair in both the brain and brawn department. Elite Squad 2 actually wields its marvelous plot at core as a solid piece of action source. While others have tried too hard to set up high octane action sequences that reeks of merely production value, this film instead confidently allows its electrifying story to engage us at top gear and never letting go. Possibly one of the best action films to go down in contemporary genre history.

A highly engaging thriller served up with high-octane action and political intrigue, Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within enjoys the honour of being the highest-grossing film of all time in Brazil. Set 13 years after the first movie, Elite Squad 2 follows the maturing Lt. Col. Nascimento as he gets entangled in a perilous political dispute after launching a war on druglords. The best intentions sometimes have the most disastrous results, however, as Nascimento realizes that his efforts have only created another kind of enemy: militias, Secretary of Security and politicians interested in scoring votes.

Elite Squad 2 is per how its title suggests, a sequel to the first film in 2007 by Director and Screenwriter José Padilha. Elite Squad also won Padilha the Golden Bear in Berlin that year and it seems like he's never letting his pedal foot loose with Elite Squad 2.

By saying it's a good piece of action film, it does so very well with authentic gunfights and criminal violence. The action is mostly raw and influential, where every punch and grunt gets to the audience as though they are experiencing it. Credits to the incredible sound (the gunshots and expended shells hitting the ground really sounds good) that the film features to further heighten the intense cinematic sensation.

There is a fair amount of style in the form of sequential editing and rock-riff soundtrack that never fails to seep through our skin. It keeps the beat up for us to play catch up constantly, as we follow the film's protagonist hero Lieutenant Colonel Nascimento of the BOPE (a special task force) through a well-scripted 2 hours worth of engaging depiction of Rio de Janeiro's social crisis.

The film indeed opened with an expression stating that much as several aspects of the film coincide with actual happenings in Rio de Janeiro, it is still a work of fiction. Despite so, it isn't difficult to see how it could be a realistic reflection of the actual city itself.

What's amazing about this film is the amount of depth and effort placed into the development of its plot, that's worthy of a credible examination of the existing social illness and the subsequent revelations that one ought to learn of. When the drug lords plaguing the city have been wiped out, it brings about a rise of a new evil.

Forgive me for saying this but, capitalism has never been more apt when evil replaces itself (amazed at how nature balances itself) upon sight of any slight opportunity. With the diminishing of the drug cartels' power and command, the police takes over in corruption. This is later linked to dirty politics, which is essentially all about power and wealth.

This is possibly taking place in Brazil and for all we know, it could well be a piece of propaganda against the corrupt office in power.

As a blockbuster action piece of work, this isn't just a simple fare of entertainment that serves to go bang bang boom. It does all the hot work for the right cause.

Acting is strong on average in this film, even the drug trade cartel gangsters struck terror through demeanour. No theatrics such as announced entrance and preempted assault with lengthy speech prior. There is no gimmicks and truly a realistic work of action. A punch gets deliver if it has to, without question.

Likewise for a bullet. Or bullets.

We get drawn towards the characters with a snap of two fingers. We detest and loathe the vicious villains and we sympathize with the heroes. In a way, Elite Squad 2 is heavily angled for the audience to despise the social system and how people live in constant peril and chaos. Kids play soccer for one minute, and may face flat on the ground with a gunshot wound in the next.

It's definitely not desired, so it's easy to skew us along.

The film also touched upon human rights and I thought it was interesting for this to come into play, especially in a place where killing is performed without any second thoughts. You either kill or get killed, it's a simple but brutal world there. So some food for thought where it tries to pitch idealistic ideas into an otherwise cold reality.

Elite Squad 2 is a terrific action genre for both fans and non fans to indulge in and it truly warrants a solid look or two. Although I didn't watch the first installment, I didn't find the need to for continuity. However with Elite Squad 2 of such fine calibre, I now have my cross-hair aimed at the prequel.


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