The drug dealers are violent and armed. The cops are violent, armed and corrupt. That is, except for BOPE, the special police operations squad of the Rio police. Think a combination of SWAT teams, Special Forces and dedicated righteousness. They wipe out drug dealers. When BOPE sees all of the police corruption, it decides to take on the corrupt cops and the politicians who use them. BOPE is led by Captain Roberto Nascimento (Wagner Moura), a relentless, ruthless policeman who, when he says "Bag him," means just that...put a plastic bag over the guy's head until he talks or dies.
The movie is episodic, ranging from the kind of humiliating training that would make a Ranger blanche to the oblivious self-interest of the young spawn of Rio elites to Captain Nascimento's stressed home life to the experiences of two young BOPE recruits. The storyline all this is attached to is finding and eliminating a really bad drug dealer. A number of grubby people, most of them guilty of something, are tortured and/or killed. Along the way we have a good look at Rio slums. With its emphasis on police and political corruption Elite Squad was a huge success n Brazil. The follow-up, Elite Squad 2-The Enemy Within in 2010, set records. Jose Padilha directed both. I'm surprised he's still alive.