3%: Netflix Brazilian Thriller (Review)

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The new Brazilian Netflix “original” series is a mixed bag of treats. It feels more like a thriller than anything else. Although the genre’s listed excludes that category opting instead for sci-fi, action and drama.  3% is set in a futuristic Brazil, not like the Narcos Netflix series which was set in the past of Medellin and Pablo Escobar.

3% takes on the air of a prequel to other works that have similar theme but have bypassed the selection process. The 2009 Swiss film Cargo also deals with a utopian setting for a privileged few, as does Elysium.

There is also a touch of Divergent where the hopeful candidates must pass a test of sorts. A vetting process which can see the 3% eligibles rejected after answering just one question incorrectly. There is also room for cheating the system a’la the 1997 science fiction film Gattaca.

This series is set in an overcrowded third-world setting where the vast majority of the population are destitute and their only hope is to be accepted as one of the 3 %.

A dystopian society where the vetting process is brutal and entirely subjective to one man’s ideal of the perfect mix for the offshore “Xanadu” where few are accepted.

The plot within a plot has a mole; Michelle (Bianca Comparato) who is part of an underground movement who seek to destroy this utopian paradise set in a devastated world. 

3% can be viewed with the original Portuguese Brazilian language with subtitles. This would be, ideally, the best way to view the eight episode series. For those who despise subtitles the series can also be viewed with the dialogue dubbed in English.

The first episode gives us the layout of this world.  Everyone wants to be accepted in the process and only a tiny amount of the population are selected.  The leader of the induction process; Ezequiel (João Miguel) is an eccentric and strong willed man who runs the interrogations with an iron hand.

He is being monitored by Aline (Viviane Porto) to ensure that the vetting itself is being done properly. It seems that there has been trouble in the offshore community as they have just had their first murder. 

The indication appears to be that Ezequiel’s method is too lax.

3% takes care to present the difficulties of passing the harsh vetting process. One lad has his identification faked by some sort of implant and another commits suicide after failing to be accepted.

Michelle and a girl from her neighborhood, and apartment building, are suspected of being moles for the underground “Cause.” The two young women are separated from the rest of the accepted hopefuls and questioned.

The real mole talks her neighbor into going for the interrogator’s gun and this girl is killed. Ezequiel steps in and snatches the gun up and the survivor, the actual mole,  is released back into the group of remaining candidates.

Offshore is meant to be a place of beauty and privilege. However, when talking about Ezequiel’s methods of selection, Aline brings up his poor results in terms of community cohesion. He mentions that his recruits are more productive.

This latter argument makes it seem that Offshore is not at all what it seems.

Fans of Brazilian drama may recognize the odd face or two in the drama. Others, who have not had the pleasure of viewing South American cinematic products will be pleasantly surprised at the high quality of the acting and the spotless editing and splendid cinematic quality of the series.

As noted by some critics, 3% is beautiful to behold. The camera work and the clean almost spartan lines of the sets are almost breathtaking.

(On a sidenote: The induction area is, according to the trivia section of IMDb, the Arena Corinthians, the venue revamped for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.)

As is the norm for Netflix, all eight episodes are available to watch right now. Head on over and watch this intense dystopian science fiction drama.

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