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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Elite Squad': A Relentless and Gritty Depiction of the War on Drugs in 1990's-Era Rio de Janeiro

Movie poster for Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) (2007)

Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) (2007) is an electrifying and gritty Brazilian crime drama that delves into the dark underbelly of Rio de Janeiro's law enforcement and illicit drug trade. Set against a backdrop of escalating violence and corruption, the narrative follows the journey of Captain Roberto Nascimento (Wagner Moura), a battle-hardened officer in the BOPE—a special police unit with a no-holds-barred approach to combating drug lords.

As Nascimento nears retirement, he searches for capable replacements among the ranks and discovers two promising candidates: Neto (Caio Junqueira), an impassioned officer driven by a strong sense of justice, and Matias (André Ramiro), an idealistic law student yearning to make a difference. Their paths diverge, however, as each faces personal struggles and dilemmas while navigating the treacherous world of crime and justice. The complex storyline takes the audience on a heart-pounding ride through the morally ambiguous methods employed by the BOPE in their often relentless campaign against Rio's formidable drug trade.

Based on the book "Elite da Tropa" by former police officers André Batista, Rodrigo Pimentel and Luiz Eduardo Soares, and directed by Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha, Elite Squad is an unflinching depiction of a city at war with itself. Padilha skillfully captures the toll of urban warfare on its protagonists while delving into the complexities of morality and loyalty. A high octane exploration of heroism of varying form, Elite Squad leaves viewers immersed in the chaotic world of Rio's law enforcement while pondering the high price paid for justice in a city where survival is the ultimate test.


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