“O sistema é foda. Ainda vai morrer muita gente inocente” (“The system is shit. Many innocent people are still gonna die”). Those words make a good plot summary for this Tropa de Elite’s sequel, with the same actors but with a considerable change in the ideology underlying the film. Roberto Nascimento is now a lieutenant colonel in charge of the BOPE special forces in Rio de Janeiro, but his intervention to liberate hostages in the violent jail “Bagum Um” forces his leaving the Batalhão de Operacões Policiais Especiais to be transferred to an administrative position as vice secretary for Public Security. There, in spite of his successes “cleaning” the favelas from criminals, he discovers a deeper involvement of crime with politics, media and Rio’s Military Police.
There is not much fight –in terms of minutes- in the favelas or in the jail (this last one constitutes an intertextual tribute to 2003’s Carandiru, 2009’s Celda 211 and so many other movies based on prison riots), because this time the fighting is against the own system. With that change, the movie seems to soften the hard-line, zero-tolerance and aggressive policy towards criminality that the original one defended in 2007, as a Brazilian 24, in which any kind of torture was justified to get important information. Now, his initially most fiery opponent, Fraga, a human rights activist and professor who is now living with his wife and educating his son against him, turns into his collaborator. The idea of those left-wing “marihuana users” who only talk about abusive and killing police-officers from their safe universities and their wealthy condominiums’ lives vanishes the same way his hope for a world free of violence and corruption does.
Aesthetically and in terms of structure, this film is quite similar to the other one, with a beginning in media res at a moment of climax, frenetic movements of camera and a continuous voice in off, Nascimento’s, narrating the incidents and explaining his own version of them –including the differences between reality and what he was expecting to happen, both translated into images-.
I wonder what thematic turn of the screw the scriptwriters will use in the next Tropa de Elite delivery.