The fascinating yet flawed Elite Squad opens in limited release today. Here's my review from the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. -- Scott Weinberg

It's rare that a good film will irritate me, but it happened at least fifteen times during the rather intense Brazilian import Elite Squad, and here's why: The film is saddled with an omnipresent voice-over narration from the main character, and this running commentary deflates, detracts, and nearly ruins every GOOD thing about the movie. Every time the viewer is offered a chance to think for himself, make a decision about a specific character, or draw a moral conclusion about the onscreen mayhem -- up pops the stunningly unnecessary voice-over monologue. After a while it starts to feel like the filmmakers simply don't trust your intelligence, and so they insist on explaining every scene, every theme, and every possible motivation the characters might have. It's a damn good thing that Elite Squad has some other very solid assets in its corner, because that narration almost kills the whole movie.

Based on the book Elite da Tropa by Andre Batista, Rodrigo Pimentel, and Luiz Soares, Elite Squad takes us inside two very different Rio de Janiero police units. On one end we have the "regular" police, most of whom are either sickeningly corrupt or simply ineffective. On the other side we have the BOPE, which is Brazil's ultra-elite unit of peace-keeping ass-kickers. Even the regular cops step to the side when the "elite squad" arrives on the scene, and it's the leader of this unit who becomes our entry point.

categories Reviews, Cinematical