Elite Squad is a mostly fine piece of action film making that manages to separate itself from its brethren through its frenetic, kinetic pacing. The story itself is serviceable - elite BOPE leader craves retirement, searches for a replacement in two seemingly different personalities. One is the live wire Neto, the other is idealistic lawyer in training Matias.
The action set pieces themselves aren't particularly memorable outside of the Brazilian favela setting but the movie does an excellent job at examining the complicated relationships between the Brazilian police and the general public. It's the rare action film that actually has something meaningful and important to say as is expected from Bus 174 director Jose Padilha. It is this skillful combination of social commentary and pure shooting action that makes the film stand out. That being said the documentary style cinematography quickly grates on the visual nerves and the ending is a bit of a cop out - albeit a cop out that really leaves the story open to interpretation. It is one of those ending that will either leave your mind blown by the bold artistic decision or will really aggravate you because it fails to wrap up the film's most important central question how far can nobility take a man in an ignoble, inhuman world? It won't be for everyone but it is still a rather fine movie.