Imperium

"Very Good"

Imperium Review


First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on a true story, he avoids the usual cliches and formulas, which makes it an unusually thoughtful film. On the other hand, this means that it lacks the excitement we expect as events spiral into some extremely stressful situations. Instead, the film relies on underlying tension, strong thematic resonance and another committed performance from Daniel Radcliffe.

Radcliffe plays Nate, an FBI agent who is a bit of a loner, teased by his colleagues for his nerdy lifestyle. But this is what his superior Angela (Toni Collette) notices about him, and she thinks he'd be perfect for an undercover assignment infiltrating a neo-Nazi group that might be planning a horrific terrorist bombing. So Nate shaves his head and studies up on the white supremacist cause, befriending a racist skinhead (Seth Numrich) and his trigger-happy pals, then meeting their leaders Gerry and Andrew (Sam Trammell and Chris Sullivan). Nate's main target is the underground radio broadcaster Dallas (Tracy Letts), who is stirring up his listeners by channelling bigotry into conspiracy theories. Is he the one planning to explode a dirty bomb somewhere in Washington DC?

The film has a dark, gritty tone that remains internalised all the way through, focussing on Nate's perilous job: if he betrays his true feelings about these reprehensible white-power ideals, it's more than likely that these men will kill him. Radcliffe is excellent in the role, quietly convincing these thugs that he's committed to the cause while still maintaining his friendly, helpful personality. Since there are no women in the movement, it's great to have Collette in such a pivotal, powerful role. Angela is a feisty blast of energy in the film. And Letts is also remarkable as a man whose complexity deepens the more we get to know him. In many ways he's the true villain of the piece, encouraging hatred among his vulnerable audience.

Intriguingly, Ragussis manages to stir sympathy for the people in this movement while making it clear that their beliefs are repulsive. These are angry young men so frustrated at their dead-end lives that they're willing to take the most violent action imaginable in the vain hope of shaking up the system. In other words, these are the extreme end of the spectrum of those who vote for things like Brexit and Trump. So while the movie never quite generates the kind of thrills we expect, its ideas are powerfully relevant. And since it's shot and played in such a realistic way, it leaves us with a lot to think about.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Imperium:



Imperium

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th August 2016

Distributed by: Tycor International Film Company

Production compaines: Grindstone Entertainment Group, Tycor International Film Company, Sculptor Media, Green-Light International, Atomic Features

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 31 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Daniel Ragussis

Producer: Ty Walker, Simon Taufique, Dennis Lee, Daniel Ragussis

Starring: as Nate Foster, as Angela Zampino, as Dallas Wolf, as Gerry Conrad, as Morgan, as Tom Hernandez, Chris Sullivan as Andrew Sheehan

Also starring:

Contactmusic


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