One thing Elite Squad never quite addressed was the sometimes fascistic nature of law enforcement, aside from showing that extreme problems require extreme solutions. The sequel expands on this; showing the pressures placed on politicians from the media and the people, which is then placed on law enforcement to act, which is then placed on the criminal organisations. The delicate ecosystem that is Rio becomes upset when BOPE essentially eradicates the cartels from the city, leaving a power vacuum waiting to be filled.
Comparisons have been made to the critically acclaimed TV series, The Wire, and these are apt. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is a socially conscious thriller, showing a more complex view of the conventional action/cop movie. Actions have consequences and there are no easy answers.
The film is somewhat lighter on action than its predecessor but it compensates by being more ambitious and intense; the unpredictable nature of the story leaves characters constantly in danger, so when action does present itself there is more impact in a shorter space of time.
José Padilha shoots the film with confidence but economy, there are few flourishes when compared to Fernando Meirelles' City of God but it is dealing with a far more complicated narrative and so the focus is on clean storytelling and strong performances. On this, he delivers.
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within achieves what all sequels should aspire towards, taking the work built up in the original and adding to it. This is visceral, engaging and intellectually compelling piece of crime cinema and a must see.