During the early morning rush hour in Rio de Janeiro on 12 June 2000, a hijacker seized control of a bus near the city's historic botanical gardens. A lone gunman, seemingly insane or on drugs, held his victims captive as the authorities and the media surrounded the parked bus.
Unable to determine his motives or purpose, the authorities stood their ground for four hours and tried to talk the hijacker into giving himself up while the television cameras broadcast every second with shocking intimacy, capturing the attention of the entire nation for the duration of the standoff.
Jose Padilha's nail-biting documentary not only recounts the events of that fateful day, but also gives voice to the hijacker, 21-year-old Sandro do Nascimento. At a very young age, Sandro watched his mother be murdered. Later, as an orphaned teenager living on the streets of Rio, he survived the brutal police slaughter of several of his homeless friends. Poor, hopeless, and hooked on cocaine, Sandro finally reached his breaking point. Padilha's unflinching thriller boldly gives voice to Nascimento, proving that he also was a victim in this unfortunate situation.