Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fantastic Fest 2011 movie review- ELITE SQUAD 2: THE ENEMY WITHIN- He said/She said

Directed by:  Jose Padilha
Written by: Jose Padilha and Mantovani
Starring: Wagner Moura, Irandhir Santos, Andre Ramiro, Milhem Cortaz, Andre Mattos, and Maria Riberiro
Synopsis: Lt. Col. Roberto Nascimento is promoted to Secretary of Security department and encounters a web of corruption, lies, and and dirty cops.

Javi: Let's talk about ELITE SQUAD 2 or "The-Movie-We-Got-Into-Because-We-Couldn't-Get-Into-The-Secret-Screening-But-That-Was-Probably-Better-Than-The-Secret-Screening-Since-This-Might-Not-Come-Out-In-The-US" Go!

Jonesy: I really enjoyed it. The end.....  Just kidding. Like I tweeted earlier, this movie is very dense, and there are a lot of plots and story arcs and characters to keep up with.  But it never felt overwhelming, and I was able to keep everyone straight even if I couldn't tell you all of the character's name. I liked it a lot, and I hope it gets release. It was a great action/drama.

Javi: Like the director asked after the movie, why can't you have a movie with something to say that could be fun as well?  And the movie does say quite a bit. There is a lot of talk about the system and how its so corrupt and what is justice exactly.  The movie asks a lot of questions, yet it does not answer them, but it gives you room to make up your own mind. 

Jonesy: I think that the title is very misleading because you're thinking that you're going to be watching a movie solely about the BOPE/Elite Squad of Brazil.

Javi: I don't think that it's misleading because it still deals with them.

Jonesy: I just thought that we would be watching a movie from the soldier's point of view. 

Javi: Well all you're doing is watching the same story from the more political side of it. From what I understand correctly, the original ELITE SQUAD deals with the actual drug issue, whereas this movie deals with the drugs from the beginning.  Not going to lie, I'm actually reminded of The Clone Wars, because you have the group of people that are such badasses with great resources that are in a way working for the bad guys.  Anyway, I was happy to see the story pulled off even with being full of narration and monologues, but it never feels like you're being spoon fed the plot as bad as some movies do. 

Jonesy: I thought the main actor as Nascimiento was wonderful because he had such presence, and nothing felt forced by him.  You could tell by just the position that he was, he understood the pressure of the job and the uphill battle of not knowing who to trust, and how far the corruption went.  Now, I kept expecting was the "big operation" or "big reveal", where the success or failure of the team hangs on.  Yet, this movie had a much more realistic take on this type of story than some standard Hollywood movie. There are some character deaths are quick and cold like they would be in real life, and the movie doesn't linger.

Javi: I don't know if I agree that the actor had a lot of range because he always looked either sad or angry. I was very happy with the way that the movie goes and says, "Hey, we're going to be doing a cop movie," without adhering to the usual beats. One thing that really annoyed me was the introduction where you see Nascimiento leaving a hospital and then getting attacked.  I've seen plenty of movies where you assume that the main character dies because of a beginning set piece of a movie ,and then they fake you out.  This is a thinking man's action movie, and the director, Jose Padhila, is perfect for the new ROBOCOP movie.  I would have wanted to see the Aronofsky version, but I say go for it, dude, go kick ass.

Jonesy: One thing that really bothered me was the subplot of the election of the corrupt governor, and how corrupt people get into power. It seemed to be a point of focus for Nascimiento's narration, and yet, that particular plot point was not explored much at all. 

Javi: I think what the movie was trying to go for is the fact that the good guys are not always going to win despite their best effort. I almost feel that the movie has more things to say about, whether in terms of corruption at a societal level, the fact that it's not always just about curing the symptoms, but curing the disease, and this would be the only way to fix the issues of society.  You can have your BOPE with your cool tanks and helicopters, but unless you cure the cause the corruption, the problems will just keep on coming back. There has to be a way to fix everything that causes the corruption in the first place.

Jonesy: Another theme is no matter who you take down, there will always be someone else to take their place. And that's such a depressing thing because, yes, you could try do make some changes, but not enough to do any sort of real change.  And most governments aren't designed to go through changes quickly.

Javi: I enjoyed the rivalry because Nascimiento and Fraga, who you find out at the beginning of the film, is a left wing liberal that kind of takes the stance of human rights and spins it to his advantage.  I never quite understood whether this guy actually believes what he says, or if he was doing it screw over Nascimiento.  There was a lot of fighting that feels more personal instead of professional.  I think Nascimiento realizes that he will do things to screw over Fraga, but I don't think that Fraga ever does. Fraga seems to be the biggest antagonist in this movie because he attacks Nascimiento professionally and personally since he is married to his ex-wife, and has warped Nascimiento son against him. And then they end up working's like two differing ideologies working together for a common goal despite their differences?!  Holy shit that's some made up non-sense; you can tell this is fiction. 

Jonesy: There weren't that many action scenes for a movie called ELITE SQUAD II. The few were bloody, but they showed a cool way of doing urban warfare. I do hope that this movie gets released because this was easily one of my favorites.

Javi: Me too! And real quick, I think it's interesting that a lot of Latin American directors always seem to be exorcising their demons of their countries, and I might not be familiar with the situation in Brazil, but this actually feels like the most truthful depiction of the issues. Unlike other movies that might be out, like EL NARCO, this one does not glorify the lifestyle of a corrupt person or even the cop.

Jonesy: And it's good to see that Nascimiento is also a very flawed character, and he could have easily been glorified to be this savior, "light in the dark", or crusader for justice.

Javi: And I feel that the thing that I appreciated the most is that the movie transcended the political leanings to show that they are both right and both wrong, but together, opposing ideologies, can work together to do some good.  So, in the end, the movie isn't completely depressing.

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