Film Reviews, Short Review

Ônibus 174 [Bus 174]


Though Jose Padilha would go on to direct the Elite Squad films – the most successful  domestic films ever in Brazil – as well as producing the hugely popular Narcos Netflix series, his first feature length film is a slow-burning account of the infamous Bus 174 hostage crisis in Rio de Janeiro, in which a young man, Sandro Rosa do Nascimento, took a bus hostage. The crisis was televised throughout the entire country and became a flashpoint for the deep-seated social problems of the country, ending in the deaths of both Nascimento and one of the hostages at the hands of the trigger-happy police. The event was later fictionalised in the film Last Stop 174 which focused more on Nascimento’s brutal upbringing, but Padilha’s film is divided between piecing together the boy’s life as well as a move-by-move account of the event itself. It is arguably too long, and the first 45 minutes or so are fairly uninteresting, but as time passes, so too does the gravitational pull of the story. What Padilha found in Bus 174 was not just another needless waste of life on the streets of Brazil, but a young man like countless others in Brazil: scared, angry, ignored by the state and the ever-growing middle-classes of Brazil, brutalised by police forces and violence, yet ultimately, a man with no intention of physically hurting anyone. It is a sad story, but one that needs to be told, again and again and again.


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