Elite Squad

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Elite Squad
Elite Squad.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJosé Padilha
Produced byJosé Padilha
Marcos Prado
Written byBráulio Mantovani
José Padilha
Rodrigo Pimentel
Based onElite da Tropa
by André Batista
Luiz Eduardo Soares
Rodrigo Pimentel
StarringWagner Moura
Caio Junqueira
André Ramiro
Music byPedro Bromfman
CinematographyLula Carvalho
Edited byDaniel Rezende
Production
company
Zazen Produções
Distributed byUniversal Pictures (Brazil)
IFC Films (United States)
Release date
  • October 5, 2007 (2007-10-05)
Running time
115 minutes
CountryBrazil
LanguagePortuguese
BudgetR$11 million
Box office$14,067,078[1]

Elite Squad (Portuguese: Tropa de Elite, pronounced [ˈtɾɔpɐ dʒi eˈlitʃi] lit. '"Elite Troop"') is a 2007 Brazilian crime film directed by José Padilha. The film is a semi-fictional account of the Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE), the Special Police Operations Battalion of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police, analogous to the American SWAT teams. It is the second feature film and first fiction film of Padilha, who had previously directed the documentary Bus 174. The script was written by Bráulio Mantovani (City of God) and Padilha, based on the book Elite da Tropa by sociologist Luiz Eduardo Soares and two former BOPE captains, André Batista and Rodrigo Pimentel.

Elite Squad was an overwhelming critical and commercial success and became a cultural phenomenon in Brazil. The film won the Golden Bear at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival. Its sequel, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, released in Brazil on October 8, 2010, holds industry records in the country for ticket sales and gross revenue.

Plot[edit]

The film opens with a narration by BOPE Captain Nascimento (Wagner Moura) explaining the illegal liasons between Rio de Janeiro's police force and the city's drug lords.

In 1997, novice police officers André Matias (André Ramiro) and Neto Gouveia (Caio Junqueira) use a sniper rifle telescope to observe officer Captain Oliveira (Marcelo Valle) and other policemen rendezvous with drug traffickers. Neto accidentally pulls the trigger, causing a deadly gunfight between the officers and thugs since both sides are unaware of where the bullet came from. As Mathias and Neto flee the scene, Nascimento and his men head to the shootout to rescue the police officers.

Six months earlier, Nascimento and his wife Rosane (Maria Ribeiro) are pregnant with their first child. Unwilling to be an absent father, Nascimento begins searching for a worthy successor, which coincides with an operation at Morro dos Prazeres to secure the location for Pope John Paul II's overnight visit at the Archbishop's home near the slum buildings. Meanwhile, long-time friends Neto and Matias share an apartment in Rio and have just completed the admission tests to the PMERJ: Neto begins working as a supervisor at the police auto mechanic shop, whilst Matias is responsible for registering and filing every police complaint in a small archive office. Matias also attends Law school, where he befriends classmates Roberta (Fernanda de Freitas), Edu (Paulo Viela) and Maria (Fernanda Machado); the three are members of a NGO sponsored by a senator and operating in a drug traffic area run by "Baiano" (Fábio Lago), a major drug lord. He also becomes friends with Romerito, a boy who suffers from severe myopia.

Neto eventually applies to another department, but his transfer is denied. Upon learning of the corruption practices carried on by police officers in a routine patrol with Captain Fabio (Milhem Cortaz), he devises a plan to steal the money from the payoffs in order to fix as many police cars as possible at once, and asks Matias for help. They succeed in stealing the money, but Oliveira finds out about their involvement and demotes both to kitchen cooks as punishment. Under the impression that both officers were following Fabio's orders, Oliveira sets him up to attend a false police report at the Morro da Babilônia during a community funk party; however, Fabio realizes the set-up and warns Neto and Matias, who follow him and arrive at the vantage point from the first scene. Meanwhile, Nascimento is struck with guilt after being confronted by the mother of a dead teenager whom he previously interrogated and gathers his men to search for the boy's body: during the operation, he is informed of the situation at Babilônia and is ordered to intervene.

Nascimento rescues Matias and Neto and orders them to carry the local drug lord's corpse to the base of the slum, during which Matias is photographed by the press. Soon after, Neto and Matias, motivated by their devotion to the force and eagerness for more action, apply for BOPE's training program. At the NGO office, Baiano confronts Maria and her friends with a newspaper featuring Matias's picture and threatens to kill them if they let policemen inside his territory.

The BOPE's training program proves to be a gruesome challenger as many candidates quit the program, including Fabio (who applied as a way to avoid Oliveira), but both Neto and Matias successfully pass the course, which prompts Neto to get a BOPE tattoo on his arm to celebrate. In college, Matias is rejected by Maria and her friends, but confronts Edu and orders him to arrange a meeting with Romerito to give him a new pair of glasses. Upon returning home, Neto informs him of a job interview in a prestigious law firm that will conflict with his meeting with Romerito and volunteers to deliver the glasses to Romerito in his place. After Edu reveals Matias' plan to Baiano, he sets an ambush to kill him, which results in Neto being mortally wounded upon arrival; when Baiano prepares to execute him, he notices the BOPE tattoo on his arm and realizes he has killed a BOPE officer. Fearing for his life, Baiano goes into hiding.

After Neto's funeral, Matias, Nascimento and his men make daily incursions into Baiano's slum, torturing several dealers into revealing his whereabouts. After one of them reveals Edu tipped Baiano, Matias storms in a peace walk, violently beats Edu and insults Maria and the others. The BOPE team finally locate and corner Baiano: Nascimento holds him at gunpoint, but the drug lord pleads to not to be shot in the face as it would ruin his funeral. Angrily amused at Baiano's pleading, Nascimento grabs a .120 shotgun, hands it to Matias and orders him to finish Baiano off as both a vendetta for Neto's death and as a final rite of passage for himself. As Baiano pleads and cries, Matias cocks the gun and the screen cuts to black as a shot is heard.

Cast[edit]

  • Wagner Moura as Squad Captain Nascimento - A captain in the BOPE squad, who is awaiting a promotion that will make his job safer and enable him to spend time with his wife and newborn son. In order to move into his new position he needs to find a worthy successor.
  • Caio Junqueira as Aspirant Neto Gouveia - He is a rookie police officer and Matias' best friend. Nascimento describes Neto as being similar to himself when he was younger. He is a tough man, but has a fierce temper as well, and never gives up on his mission. He later joined BOPE to seek out justice and was groomed for Nascimento's spot.
  • André Ramiro as Aspirant André Matias - Another rookie police officer, he is also a law student, who wants to specialize in criminal law. He is a resourceful and calculating tactician. He joins BOPE along with Neto Gouveia.
  • Maria Ribeiro as Rosane Nascimento - Nascimento's wife. They are expecting their first child. She dislikes Nascimento's frequent absence from home and the dangers associated with his job.
  • Milhem Cortaz as Capitão Fábio Barbosa - One of the captains where Matias and Neto work he develops a sort-of friendship with the two. A former pimp in Copacabana he also runs a protection racket scheme. After Matias and Neto stole the drug payoff he feared that Oliveira would blame him and have him killed.
  • Fernanda Machado as Maria - A law student and founding member of the NGO, she is also a marijuana user. She befriends Matias and falls in love with him, but when Baiano finds out that he is a cop, she abandons him for lying to her and because she fears Baiano's retribution. She later helps Matias by giving him the name of Bainao's girlfriend. In the end, Matias insults her and her friends and walks away, ending their relationship.
  • André Di Mauro as Pedro Rodrigues - A student who works in the favela's NGO and dates Roberta. As a punishment for bringing a cop into the drug dealer's circle of friends, Rodrigues is necklaced.[2]
  • Paulo Vilela as Edu - Nicknamed "Playboy", he is the main university drug dealer and is close to Baiano, although he is afraid of him. He despises Matias for his defense of police officers.
  • Fábio Lago as Baiano - He is a ruthless drug lord who sells marijuana and heroin throughout the university using several students. Unlike many other drug lords, he hates all kinds of cops, even the corrupted ones, and avoids having business with them. Edu is his main seller on the university. He has a small auxiliary that protects the NGO.
  • Marcelo Valle [pt] as Capitão Oliveira - He is Fabio's rival and superior in the police force, taking over his territory for protection rackets and later allegedly setting him up to be killed.
  • Fernanda de Freitas as Roberta Alunde
  • Alex Avellar, as 02 {{How? Captain Fabio is 02}}
  • Ricardo Pagotto Piai, as 08
  • Guilherme Aguilar, as 07
  • Pedro Bonfim, as PM Robson

Inspiration[edit]

The movie is based on Elite da Tropa,[3] a book by two BOPE policemen (Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais - Rio de Janeiro military police squads for special actions), André Batista and Rodrigo Pimentel, together with sociologist & anthropologist Luiz Eduardo Soares, which provided a semi-fictional account of the daily routine of the BOPE as well as some historical events, based on the experiences of the two BOPE policemen. The book was controversial at the time of release, in its description of the BOPE as a "killing machine", as well as the detailed allegation of an aborted assassination attempt on then left-wing governor of Rio de Janeiro, Leonel Brizola, and reportedly resulted in Batista being reprimanded and censured by the Military Police. The writing contained some discrepancies, however Soares did not retract his novel.[4] The novel had a unique reception when it was translated in 2010. There were many fans of the original novel and film who felt that the Portuguese-English translation was poor and did not follow the film and vice versa. Ultimately the novel (before translation) was more like the film than the novel in English.[citation needed]

Production leak[edit]

In August 2007, prior to the movie's release to theaters, a preliminary cut of the film was leaked and made available for download on the Internet. The cut, which included English title cards but no subtitles, was leaked from the company responsible for subtitling the film, resulting in one person being fired and a criminal investigation. It was estimated that about 11.5 million people had seen the leaked version of the movie in 2007.[5]

Reception[edit]

Popularity and box office[edit]

Elite Squad became one of the most popular Brazilian movies in history. According to Datafolha, 77% of São Paulo residents knew about the movie. The word of mouth was also important for the disclosure of the film, with 80% of the people rating the movie as "excellent" or "good", according to the same poll.[6] The movie was released in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo on October 5, 2007 (with the intention of being considered by the Ministry of Culture to compete as the Brazilian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar). It was released nationwide on October 12, 2007. By January 2008, 2.5 million people had seen it in theaters.[7] In Rio and São Paulo, with no promotion other than billboards, 180,000 people saw the movie during its opening weekend.[6][8]

The movie was also the cover issue for the two Brazil's most important weekly magazines, Veja and Época. In the beginning of 2008 it was confirmed that Rede Globo would produce a TV series based on the movie.[9] In 2011 Rockstar Games recommended Elite Squad to fans of its video game Max Payne 3,[10] which is set in Brazil and depicts battles between special police units and favela gangs.

Outside Brazil reviews of the film were initially mixed, but after time the film was received more positively. Based on 34 reviews, the film received a 53% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with its critics' consensus calling it a "brutal, action-heavy Brazilian cop film with a pointless voiceover. Lacks flair, overdoes the violence and is never quite sure where its morals lie".[11]

Criticism[edit]

When the first version of the film leaked, it caused a major controversy for its portrayal of Captain Nascimento's unpunished police brutality in slums (favelas); some saw it as glamourizing police violence. After its exhibition in Berlin Film Festival, critic Jay Weissberg, in a Variety article, called the movie "a one-note celebration of violence-for-good that plays like a recruitment film for fascist thugs".[12] Michel Misse, a researcher of urban violence in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in an article by Carta Capital, tried to explain why some people cheered at Captain Nascimento's actions: "as the judiciary system cannot keep up with the demand for punishment, some may think civil rights leads to unpunishment. And then, they want illegal solutions. That's why Captain Nascimento is called".[13]

Awards[edit]

On February 16, 2008, Elite Squad won the Best Movie award of the Berlin International Film Festival, the Golden Bear.[14]

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack of the film was a collection of popular hits, but even the soundtrack would not escape controversy as the Brazilian authorities demanded the removal of MC Leonardo's "Rap das Armas" from the film, because of alleged promotion of violence like use of illegal arms and drugs. The filmmakers complied two weeks after the official release.

  1. "Rap das Armas" - Bateria da Rocinha, MC Leonardo
  2. "Tropa de Elite" - Tihuana
  3. "Rap da Felicidade" - MC Cidinho, MC Doca
  4. "Passa Que é Teu" - Pedro Bromfman
  5. "Brilhar a Minha Estrela" - Sangue da Cidade
  6. "Kátia Flávia, a Godiva do Irajá" - Fausto Fawcett
  7. "Teatro de Bonecos" - Guilherme Flarys, Pedro Guedes
  8. "Polícia" - Titãs
  9. "Invasão do BOPE" - Pedro Bromfman
  10. "Lado B Lado A" - O Rappa
  11. "Andando Pela África" - Barbatuques
  12. "Nossa Bandeira" - Bateria da Rocinha, MC Leonard
  13. "Rap das Armas [Funk]" - MC Leonard

Sequel[edit]

A sequel, named Tropa de Elite 2: O Inimigo Agora É Outro, was released in Brazil on October 8, 2010, and in the U.S. on November 11, 2011.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Elite Squad (2008)". Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ "Tropa de Elite". ZAZEN PRODUÇÕES. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  3. ^ "IPS – BRAZIL: Book Takes Dark Journey into World of Police Corruption | Inter Press Service". Ipsnews.net. 2006-07-27. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  4. ^ Monken, Mario Hugo. Livro sobre elite da PM do Rio causou punição, diz autor. Folha de S.Paulo. April 29, 2006. Retrieved on September 5, 2007.
  5. ^ Marcelo Cajueiro (2007-10-19). "'Elite' stirs controversy, box office". Variety. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  6. ^ a b Datafolha (October 6, 2007). ""Tropa de Elite" já foi visto por 19% dos paulistanos". Folha de S.Paulo.
  7. ^ Ag. Estado (January 11, 2008). "'Tropa de Elite' pode render doações". Agência Estado. Archived from the original on 2008-01-15.
  8. ^ "Página não encontrada - iG". Ultimosegundo.ig.com.br. Archived from the original on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  9. ^ "Folha Online - Ilustrada - Globo vence Record e leva "Tropa de Elite", informa Daniel Castro". .folha.uol.com.br. 2008-02-18. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  10. ^ "Rockstar Recommends: "Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite)"". Rockstar Games. 2011-11-10. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  11. ^ "Tropa de Elite (The Elite Squad)". Rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  12. ^ Weissberg, Jay. "The Elite Squad Review", Variety, February 11, 2008. Accessed May 8, 2009. Archived February 17, 2013, at Archive.today
  13. ^ Sousa, Ana Paula. "Herói torturador"[permanent dead link], CartaCapital. Accessed May 8, 2009.
  14. ^ Collett, Mike (2008-02-16). "Violent Brazil cop drama named best film in Berlin". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-11-17.

External links[edit]