Tropa de Elite (2007)
Reader Rating (Rate Here): [Total: 1 Average: 4/5]
Directed By: José Padilha
Cast: Wagner Moura, Caio Junqueira, André Ramiro, Milhem Cortaz, Fernanda Arrias Machado, Maria Ribeiro
Tropa de Elite is the story of the head of Brazil’s BOPE squad and his search for his replacement. This semi fictional account is based on the book Elite da Tropa by sociologist Luiz Eduardo Soares and two former BOPE captains- André Batista and Rodrigo Pimentel. Tropa de Elite talks about Brazil’s culture: the favelas, gangs, drugs and corruption.
BOPE is a special unit in Brazil’s military with its jurisdiction in Rio de Janeiro, just like SWAT in America. BOPE is a prestigious organisation tackling drugs and crime in the favelas. Roberto Nascimento (Wagner Moura) heads the squad but he wants out of it because he is going to be a father. He has to choose a replacement from among the applicants. There are many applicants; most of them are corrupt with the exception of Neto (Caio Junqueira) and Matias (André Ramiro). Neto is hot headed and blood thirsty while Matias is the complete opposite. He is methodical and carefully evaluates every move.
Tropa de Elite talks about the requirements of the job and charts the path of the two rookies. Neto and Matias come through the system and after getting frustrated with it want to fight it by joining BOPE. The system is corrupt from top to bottom. The profit made from drug trade and “protection money” results in the brutal turf war, piling up bodies on a daily basis.
Roberto’s methods, however inhuman they might be, work. BOPE has curtailed the drug trade in the favelas and the drug mafia fears them. In the favelas, where every kid carries a gun, there is no scope for mercy or leniency. Unless they put a plastic cover on the face and torture no one is willing to cooperate. And so his replacement needs to be practical and unwaveringly honest and determined- who would not care for gender or age when it comes to apprehending (mostly killing) the criminals. The BOPE squad is clear in their thinking: anything related to drugs is unacceptable- even if its an NGO working for the poor but financed by the drug mafia. There are no trials and tribunals, the decision is made at the point of encounter. Roberto loves the job and puts it even before his family to the point of breaking.
The camera runs along with the actors which makes the frame shaky in Tropa de Elite, giving it a feel of a documentary. The violence and blood shed is horrific and not for weak-hearted. The best part of the movie is the script which never stops for a moment. The entire script is narrated by Roberto- he explains the reasons for the action going on. I also liked the way he talks about a scene just before it happens to create anticipation. I really don’t know how much of it is true, but it feels real.
Wagner Moura is stand out as an honest cop torn between his love and his son. I loved the fact that when he describes himself he keeps everything black and white. “Yes, I loose my temper easily so what?” I also liked Milhem Cortaz role as Captain Fabio, a former pimp but now a captain running a protection racket. The other notable role is by Fernanda Machado who plays Maria- Matias’s love interest.
There is a lot happening in this movie all the time and if you don’t know Portuguese then its a little difficult to keep track. But the movie is worth your patience. Watch it and share your rating above.
Enjoy the Trailer: