After watching and really enjoying Jose Padilha‘s Elite Squad: The Enemy Within last night at the Palm Springs Film Festival, I’m convinced that (a) it should definitely be considered as one of the top Best Foreign Film Oscar nominees because good is good regardless of genre, and (b) Padilha’s U.S.-funded Robocop remake, which he’s now working on in Los Angeles, has an excellent shot at being fantastic.
I don’t have any excuse for ignoring this exceptional socio-political action thriller when it opened in the U.S. last November. No excuse whatsoever. I apologize. It was lazy and wrong.
I also apologize for the murky sound in the two videos posted within this story. I shot them during last night’s post-screening q & a at Palm Springs’ Regal plex. I was sitting only ten feet from Padilha, but the iPhone 4S simply isn’t as sensitive as my Canon Elph, which I left back in West Hollywood.
While Padilha’s Elite Squad (’07) took heat in some quarters for seeming to favor hard-ass paramilitary “skull” assaults against Brazilian “favela” drug gangsters, this superior sequel has the first film’s tough-guy hero Nascimento (Wagner Moura) getting promoted out of the skulls and into Brazil’s wiretap king, which eventually leads to a pitched battle against corrupt cops and sociopathic government slimeballs.
It’s a highly-charged, super-thrilling, ultra-violent ride from stat to finish. It’s mainly about pacing and velocity and less about character, but there’s sufficient enough attention paid to the things that any good action film needs — motivation, personality, one thing leading to another out of necessity, etc.
I’m going to sit down with Padilha in Beverly Hills tomorrow. I’ll run our chat in mp3 and video form.