Tag Archives: drug dealers


Director: Denis Villeneuve; Main Cast: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro;


Kate (Blunt) is a FBI agent used to kick down doors and catch bad guys for the good of all American people. She follows the rules but, on a rescue operation, she stumbles on something that it’s beyond understanding:  dozens of dead bodies ensconced inside the walls of a house. It belongs to a major player in the drug traffic between US and Mexico and it has the additional perk of backyard shed booby-trapped with explosive that kills two policemen. Spurred by righteous indignation, Kate joins an inter-agency task force led by Matt (Brolin), soi-disant consultant for the Department of Defense, who will show her how the war on drugs is really fought. Mat is helped by Alejandro (Del Toro), another “consultant” of the US government, who is enigmatic, apparently all-knowing and rather shady, also not American. The viewer goes along with Kate on this grim ride, discovering facts and getting information as she does, slowly realising that she stepped into a very dangerous world where police work is substituted by covert military operations and rules and boundaries are very different from what she knows and believes in. Villeneuve seems to have a knack for making films that keep you engaged and uncomfortable at the same time. The foreboding mood of the story, the constant feeling that something is not right is difficult to shake off even for the jaded, cynical viewer, all thanks to Villeneuve’s ability in combining excellent performances with a good script and expert cinematography. Brolin and Blunt sell very well their respective characters but Del Toro is the one that truly shines! I did miss him in a role he could sink his teeth in and give us something remarkable. The other interesting aspect of this film is the fact that doesn’t really give an answer to the questions it raises on the “war” on drugs, it just depicts the situation in all its stark, disheartening reality, reminding me of a very illuminating exchange in an episode of The Wire:

Carver: You can’t even call this shit a war.

Hauk: Why not?

Carver: Wars end.

Gripping —7.5/10

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Tropa de Elite

Director:  José Padilha, Main Cast: Wagner MouraAndré RamiroCaio JunqueiraFernanda Machado;

At first this film may seem like City of God meets S.W.A.T. but it is more nuanced, while you watch it you realise that’s more like Homicide: Life on the Street or season 1 of The Wire. This is the story of Captain Nascimento (Wagner Moura) in 1997, who is a member of the BOPE, the elite police corps of Rio de Janeiro, highly trained in what is basically urban warfare. They are the answer to a two-fold problem: rampaging violence linked to the drug trafficking in Rio’s favelas and endemic corruption and poor training of the regular police. The BOPE uses rather extreme tactics to fight the drug dealers and they certainly have never heard of human rights or the Geneva Convention. On the other hand, drug lords have assault weapons and no restrain in using them, so it is indeed open war in the streets. Nascimento is good at his job but saying that he is tired and stressed is an understatement; he doesn’t want to die and leave his unborn son fatherless. He needs to find a replacement for his position before he can quit while making one of the favelas safe for the visit of the Pope. So telling his story is also telling the tale of Matias (Andre Ramiro) and Neto (Caio Junqueira), two young and honest policemen who decide to join the BOPE to do the right thing. In this way the director is able to show us, in a very compelling manner, disparate aspects of the life of Rio’s inhabitants: regular policemen, drug dealers and their cronies, middle-class students, NGO operators and, of course, BOPE men. The performances of the actors are convincing and intense, special kudos to Moura and Ramiro. It is a raw and gritty film, probably too strong for some but it’s worth your time. Riveting —8/10

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