Jose Padilha made an explosive filmmaking debut with his documentary Bus 174 (2002), whose recounting of a prolonged hostage drama in the streets of Rio de Janeiro was both viscerally gripping and socially nuanced. I haven't seen his second theatrical release, the Brazilian action hit Elite Squad (2007), but this sequel indicates he's abandoned any serious intentions in favor of pure suspense. The hero (Wagner Moura) is a SWAT-type police warrior kicked upstairs to become a surveillance officer, and his cynical voice-over seems to have been lifted from such 70s law-and-order chestnuts as Death Wish and Dirty Harry (a naive human-rights activist figures prominently in the story). This is jammed with cliches but completely engrossing, in the manner of a movie ardently in love with its own bullshit. In Portuguese with subtitles.
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