Slick, pacey action film set in 1997's Rio de Janeiro, won the 2008 Golden Bear Award and one of the most popular films in Brazilian history. Under the slick gloss of high-end American TV drama production values, beats the heart of Søren Kierkegaard.
The main protagonists take the odd-couple form of two of Brazilian law enforcement agencies - the Military Police, and the elite Police Special Police Operations Battalion - BOPE. Corruption within the Military Police is depicted at breathtaking levels of audacity. BOPE, on the other hand, is shown free of corruption but also of any humanity - as a killing machine prepared to go to any lengths to meet its objectives.
The film has been accused of promoting fascism as the only solution for the hideous complexity of criminality and social deprivation in Rio. Capitão Nascimento (played by Wagner Moura), the film main character, doesn't really support this argument. Nascimento is a man struggling with mental disintegration and disillusion, battered against the impossibility of being a good father and husband while working as a BOPE commander, and desperate to replace himself in order to make an escape which doesn't involve his death. His induction and brutalisation of his potential replacements is a giddying and nauseous spiral of spiritual corruption which makes the Military Police's squabble for power and money seem guileless by comparison. It's a powerful and astonishing film in which the director and writers seem to have been channeling Antonin Artaud passing himself off as Michael Mann. Kicking sound track too.