Below is a notable perspective on the 2002 film City of God, written by Lewis University student Sarah Simar. Spoilers ahead.
Guns, gangs, crime, drugs, power, wealth, survival — these are the most obvious themes in City of God (Cidade de Deus, 2002), directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund. There is no way out, no safe place to hide in the City of God. If you are not in a gang, you are forced into one at a very young age.
One of the main characters and narrator of the story, Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues), dreams of being a photographer and getting out of this violent world. The other main character, Ze Pequeno (Leandro Firmino), wants to rule the city from a young age with his partner Benny (Phellipe Haagensen), and accomplishes just that through a series of malicious acts. Rocket and Ze are so radically different, but their paths cross more than once throughout the movie. These moments reiterate the theme that there is no way out, even for Rocket, who wants nothing to do with any gang.