Rockstar Recommends: "Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite)"
Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) (2007)
As we prepare for our first game set in the fascinating, beautiful and often very volatile land of Brazil, we present the first film in a new series of Rockstar Recommended movies to help prime you for the atmosphere and setting in which Max Payne will find himself plunged this spring.
“Elite Squad” (original Brazilian title “Tropa de Elite”) is a picture very well known as a breakthrough hit in its native Brazil several years ago, but slightly less known on other shores – something which may change with the release of its blockbuster sequel (the highest grossing film in Brazil’s history) getting a proper U.S. release this coming weekend. Based on a book released the year prior, and adapted for the screen by writer/director/producer Jose Padilha, the film is his second in a trilogy of movies concerning the special police forces of Padilha’s native Rio de Janeiro (released between the disturbing 2002 documentary “Bus 174” and the 2010 smash-hit “Elite Squad 2”).
The titular ‘Tropa de Elite’ refers to Rio’s BOPE special forces police squad (nicknamed ‘skulls’ after their intimidating crest) – a highly trained guerilla-style paramilitary unit that steps in when the city’s police force can’t hack it – which, in Rio’s most dangerous favelas, appears to be much of the time.
Inspired by true stories recounted by ex-BOPE officers and set against the backdrop of the Pope coming to visit Brazil in 1997 and wishing to stay with Rio’s bishop who resides adjacent to one of the worst slums in the city – the squad is called up on to clean up immediate crime by any means necessary. Filmed on location in the same real-life favela as 2002’s “City of God”, the production was mired with shootings, police raidings and hijackings as revealed by the director himself.
The film touched a raw nerve with local law enforcement and politicians with its depiction of police corruption (especially rife at municipal levels), the precarious relationship between the law and the powerful drug lords that rule the favelas – and the brutal extremes that both sides will go to enforce and assert their authority.
While of course Max Payne 3 is set in São Paulo, a couple hundred miles from Rio, the social issues stemming from the disparity of wealth persist in both of Brazil’s major cities, perhaps even more so in São Paulo’s currently booming economy where luxury skyrises belie a persisting crime rate of robberies and home invasions – and where the BOPE-equivalent special forces of GOE (specializing in riots, prison uprisings and high-risk hostage situations), GATE (specializing in hostage situations and disarming bombs), and GARRA (specializing in cases of theft, robbery and assault) are regularly called into action.
Look for some of “Elite Squad”’s intense sequences of BOPE soldiers carefully raiding favela warzones and caught in deadly shootouts versus heavily-armed drug dealers and lookouts who wield assault rifles and Uzis as part of daily life – whether recreationally at baile funk parties and while playing foosball, or during police payoffs and drug transactions with middle class drug peddlers.