**** (Four stars)
The drug-infused lawlessness of Brazil’s slummy favelas has inspired a handful of films that one might call urban Brazilian Westerns. In 2007’s Elite Squad, set in picturesque Rio de Janeiro, José Padilha directs a narrative based on actual events involving three men who inhabit the morally fuzzy world of shantytown law enforcement as members of the Elite Squad.
Infamous for gratuitous use of force and forms of petty torture that might make Rumsfeld giggle, the SWAT-like unit is burdened with slum cleanup duty for an upcoming papal visit. As fatherhood looms, Elite Capt. Nascimento must find a suitable replacement for himself among the corrupt police recruits (two of whom fill out the film's principal trio) while battling influential drug lords to accomplish the mission at hand. Following a wide-ranging script reminiscent of co-writer Braulio Montavani’s City of God, Elite qualifies as one of today’s classier action flicks.—Joshua Stringer, assistant newsstand manager
[This is a TONY staff review, written for the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. It is not considered an official review and should not be read as such. Please think of it as a casual impression from a movie-loving friend.]
Cast and crew