The Elite Squad (originally named Tropa de Elite) is a Golden Bear-winning 2007 Brazilian movie depicting the war between Rio de Janeiro drug dealers and the police - specifically, the BOPE (Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais: "Special Police Operations Battalion"), the most feared police force in the State. In the midst of this war, Captain Roberto Nascimento prepares for retirement as his first child is born. To replace him, there are two regular police officers - hotheaded Neto and the more intellectual Matias. Add to the mixture police corruption, and you've got it.The movie was quite a success in Brazil, strangely, even before being officially released, with the amount of pirated copies of it being sold, which kinda contradicts the spirit of "don't finance crime" of the film. It has been basically the greatest meme generator in Brazil in recent history and the protagonist, Captain Nascimento, is now recognized as a true Memetic Badass.It has also stirred some controversy regarding human rights, due to the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique used by the BOPE crew, being the cover of some of the most important magazines in the country.A sequel was released in 2010. In it, Nascimento (now a Lt. Colonel) is Kicked Upstairs after Matias kills an armed prisoner while controlling a prison rebellion. He uses the new job to equip BOPE and destroy most crime in Rio... which leads to the corrupt cops (referred to as "militia") deciding to take over the slums where drug dealers had control. Only gets worse from here. It became the Brazilian movie with the highest attendance ever in theaters.José Padilha, who directed both films, went on to helm the 2014 remake of RoboCop.
Anachronism Stew: Given the first film is supposedly set in 1997, when Pope John Paul II visited Rio, a few elements don't fit the year (particularly regarding Product Placement, such as the cars and cellphones). For instance, establishing shots of the Sugar Loaf show a restaurant that was only opened in 2002, and Matias meets a guy asking votes for a Senate candidate one year too early.
Badass: Captain Nascimento. Though Matias probably qualifies, near the end.
Badass Army: BOPE, full stop. Baiano's reaction after discovering the guy he just killed was one of them should tell you that messing with them is not the best of ideas. And then BOPE takes a level in badass in Tropa 2.
Big Damn Heroes: In Tropa 1 Nascimento leads some BOPE troops to save Neto and Matias from drug dealers.
Bittersweet Ending: Nascimento has a few personal victories in the sequel but corruption is still rampant, greater than he envisioned and not shaken a bit by his actions.
Blatant Lies: After Neto's funeral, Matias' ex-girlfriend gives him the address of Baiano's girlfriend, and pleads with him not to hurt her. Matias gently smiles and promises that she won't be harmed. The next scene is Baiano's girlfriend being tortured by Matias, with Nascimento offering pointers and commentary on technique.
Book Ends: Early on in Tropa 1, Nascienmento rants to some rich kid that BOPE is the one cleaning up the mess they got themselves into and should be using their money for something better. Near the end, Mattias rants to some college kids along the same lines.
Butt Monkey: A lot of crap happens to Fabio, and he's singled out for the worst treatment at the BOPE training camp in Tropa 1. In Tropa 2, although he managed to get promoted to Colonel, he's still being bossed around by everyone, and his nominal subordinate Rocha pretty much ignores him. Until he kills Rocha and takes over his militia.
Call Back: Matias' funeral in Tropa 2 is a direct callback to Neto's funeral in Tropa 1.
The Cavalry: The plainclothes BOPE operators who crash Nascimento's shootout with the militia in Tropa 2.
Colonel Badass: Nascimento is a Lieutenant Colonel when Tropa 2 begins.
Cop Killer: When a bunch of crooks mortally wound an off-duty member of the BOPE (the Brazilian equivalent of SWAT and quite the Badass Army), they have a massive Oh Crap moment and rush him to the hospital (where he dies anyway). Captain Nascimento, the Memetic BadassObi Wan/narrator mentions that the crooks are clever to be afraid, because BOPE's reaction to such a death would be a no-holds-barred manhunt... which happens on the third act of the movie, with tortures galore.
Deconstruction - The sequel does this to Nascimento and some aspects of the first film.
Digital Piracy Is Evil: The film became a hit partially because of its leak. Which explains why the DVD has three unskippable "piracy finances organized crime" warnings before the menu shows up.
Dolled-Up Installment: The street-DVD piracy got some real films and labeled them "Tropa de Elite 2" (a documentary about the war on traffic), "3" (actual BOPE images) and "4" (a Brazilian movie about the origins of drug-dealing group Comando Vermelho).
Don't Make Me Destroy You: Near the end of Tropa 1, Nascimento tries to get a mook to spill the beans on Baiano's location without having to torture. Unfortunately, the dumbass doesn't get the message...
Elite Army: BOPE deconstruct this; they can beat any number of drug dealers in a fight, but their limited numbers mean they can't hold territory and are limited to raids, meaning progress is very slow. Nascimento notes that the regular cops have the numbers to make things work, but the corruption means almost none of them will help.
Establishing Character Moment: Tropa 1 opens with Nascimento and a BOPE sniper observing a Dirty Cop selling police guns to a drug dealer. Nascimento is annoyed that they can't do anything, as they only have one shot and two targets. When the sniper tells him he can kill both parties with one round, a visibly pleased Nascimento tells him to go ahead.
False Flag Operation: Rocha's militia steal guns from a police station in Tanque; the gangs are framed for the theft, giving an excuse for BOPE to clean them out, so that the residents will become voters friendly to Fortunato.
He Who Fights Monsters: This is basically Matias's character arc in Tropa 1. He originally believed in justice, but the more he learns about the corruption of the normal police and the depravity of the drug dealers, the more he dies inside. After some losses that hit close to home, he snaps. By the end of the film he's fully embraced BOPE's brutal ways. By the second movie, he is even more ruthless than Nascimento.
The first movie begins with Fabio and a bunch of corrupt cops entering the Babilonia favela and Mattias and Neto racing to an overwatch position. Neto gets on the sniper rifle and fires, as Nascimento talks about BOPE and the three kinds of cops in Rio... and then rewinds to the start of their stories, revealing that Matias and Neto are trying to keep Fabio from being killed, not sniping him.
The sequel opens with the militia gunning down Nascimento's car, Nascimento saying that in the face of death he started remembering everything... and when the movie returns to that scene, it's revealed that Nascimento is kinda safe, specially because some friends came to his aid.
Kicked Upstairs: When removing Nascimento from BOPE, they give him a spot in the Secretary of Intelligence. Subverted in that he uses it to equip BOPE and watch for crime, corruption and the such from inside the force.
Kill It with Fire: A character is killed in a way the real Rio drug dealers call "microwave", but which is more commonly called "necklacing". It involves stuffing the victim inside a stack of tires and setting it on fire. A drug dealer called Qualé gets killed by his rivals this way in the beginning of the sequel too.
Leeroy Jenkins: Nascimento is disappointed to learn that Neto is actually this once they carry out a real favela raid. He ends up having to bail the latter out.
Married to the Job: Nascimento, who in the first movie practically crushes his marriage because of his commitment to police duty.
Nice Hat: BOPE eschew helmets for a black beret with the BOPE badge.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Matias trying to get Romerito spectacles. The student he told spilled the beans to the drug dealers and when Neto volunteered to help him pass them to the boy he gets fatally shot.
"...Because Baiano knew that killing a member of BOPE was asking to suffer."
Earlier, during BOPE training camp, Mattias is falling asleep during a lecture by Nascimento, who's speaking in a soft droning voice. Instead of giving him an asskicking, Nascimento simply puts a grenade in Mattias' hands, tells him to hold it, and pulls the pin out. Mattias is instantly awake and wide-eyed.
"Now, 07, if you are still sleepy. You are holding a live grenade. If you fall asleep, the grenade will fall out of your hands and go off and kill us all. Let's continue."
Real Song Theme Tune: Tihuana had a song titled "Tropa de Elite", which they declared was describing the band itself. But given the appropriate title, the filmmakers had to use it on the film's soundtrack, and is as much as associated with The Elite Squad and BOPE as possible.
Product Placement: A few in the sequel. It helps that like every Brazilian movie, the credits are preceded by the sponsors, so it's easier to recognize.
Nascimento calls out a student for his drug-taking that puts money in the drug dealers' hands.
You're the one who killed him! You faggot! You're the one who finances this shit! You pothead piece of shit! We come here to fix what you fuck up!
He also rants at Fabio during the BOPE training course about the latter's corrupt ways.
02, know why you won't be able to do what I'm ordering you? It's not just because you're weak. It's because to wear this skull, 02, you have to have integrity. Something you don't. You belong with whores. You belong with pimps. You belong in abortion clinics. We don't like corrupt cops, 02. Corrupt cops don't make it in BOPE, 02.
Reassigned to Antarctica: When the precinct commander discovers that Neto and Matias took his bribes away from him, he has Matias assigned to the cafeteria and takes Neto's best mechanic away.
Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Neto is insulted as naive by Fabio when the former is incredulous about the precinct commander's getting paid off by the drug dealers. He quickly learns to turn the cops' bribe-taking against them. Matias doesn't.
The Spartan Way: BOPE training. And the officers are already told not to burst trainees' eardrums or cut off fingers, although those are claimed to be accidents. The very first thing that happens is the trainees getting slapped and shouted at until at least one person breaks. It also includes beatdowns and being made to eat food that's been dumped onto the ground. Nascimento notes that the brutality is deliberately meant to weed out those who can't take pressure and punish the corrupt; usually only 5 out of every 100 make it all the way through. He claims it's tougher than Israeli training.
Spiritual Successor: Given director José Padilha had done before the documentary Bus 174, some consider the films an attempt for Padilha to do a trilogy of crime films.
Star-Crossed Lovers: Matias and Maria. He was a cop. She had drug connections. Their relationship could never have worked.
Sudden Principled Stand: Near the end, during the final search for Baiano, Renan expresses doubt when they start breaking down the doors of the innocent. Nascimento lets him take some kids out of the area.
Sunglasses at Night: Invoked in Tropa 1 when Renan is told to put on shades while indoors to hide his pink eye.
SWAT Team: BOPE originally started as a relatively peaceful hostage rescue team, before evolving into a Badass Army fighting fire with fire. Tropa 2 shows an example of an attempt to return to their roots, when deployed to suppress the prison riot... except that rather than control the situation, Nascimento suggests letting the criminals kill each other and then mop up once they're spent.
Take a Third Option: Villainous example in the sequel. After Nascimento and BOPE weaken the drug dealers that they do not have the ability to secure the favelas as their strongholds, Rocha and the dirty cops find another source of income by becoming illegal essential services providers to the favelas, in addition to running protection rackets.
In the sequel, Nascimento is annoyed that people call him a fascist.
When the invasion of the Tanque favela fails to find the stolen police guns, Nascimento tells his assistant to call it "Operation Iraq."
The sequel also is a Take That on the entire corrupt system.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Fraga and Nascimento really hate each other's guts, but they do manage to work together to eventually launch a corruption investigation that puts away a number of militia-connected politicians in Tropa 2.
Therapy Is For The Weak: In Tropa 1 Nascimento is sent to see a psychiatrist, but he can't or won't open up to her about his problems. Admittedly, she failed to recognise when he tried to use I Have This Friend.
Trailers Always Lie: The US release trailer implies Matias and Neto as joining BOPE to avenge a girl they loved who was killed by gang violence. They got into BOPE after inadvertently triggering a shootout between drug dealers and Dirty Cops, and were sick of the corruption in the police. Said girl is killed after they're already recruits and leave her, in the scene listed above in Kill It with Fire.
Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The unknown journalist who takes a photo of Matias and inadvertently reveals the fact that he's a cop to the drug dealers. It ruins Matias's relationship and leads to another character's death.
Values Dissonance: Brazilian critics loved it, whereas foreign critics not so much, with some calling it "fascist". This dissonance might be in part to the fact that the movie seems to be mainly trying to 'show' things as they are, but Do Not Do This Cool Thing aspects might have made it seem otherwise.
In-Universe example from the sequel: The human rights people and some politicians are highly critical of Nascimento and BOPE after a criminal is killed in an operation (to be fair, he was holding a negotiator hostage). When Nascimento goes to see his superiors and such in a restaurant to discuss this matter, every other patron stands up and applauds Nascimento!
"To normal people, a good criminal is a dead criminal."
It is pretty natural that perspectives on criminal justice will be rather different in countries where police forces generally have things under control, than in countries like Brazil with homicide rates that most N. Americans (excluding Mexicans), Europeans, and Asians only have to see in their nightmares. And there is a much better chance of Mis Aimed Fandom through It's Personal considering the victimization levels in many of the Brazilian cities, compared to the foreign critics' countries.
Vice City: Rio. Drug dealers rule the favelas, brutally murdering those who "offend" them. The normal police are corrupt and firmly in their pocket. Rich, ignorant students fund the drug dealers and misguidedly rail against the police. The closest thing to a beacon of light in this darkness is the fascist, torturing BOPE, who would be villains in a less cynical work. The sequel adds Lawman Gone Bad militia who violently feud with the dealers and the corrupt politicians aiding them.
You Are Number Six: In the first movie, Capt. Nascimento refers to his recruits by numbers.