Earlier this year we were taken to a remote white supremacist club in Jeremy Saulnier’s brutal thriller ‘Green Room’. The group of neo-nazis that featured here were in place more as a narrative device than a thematic one but ‘Imperium’ is much more focused on the theme of white supremacy as a whole. It’s a different focus for a different kind of film but could ‘Imperium’ with a leading role from Daniel Radcliffe garner the same levels of praise that ‘Green Room’ did?
This film is a real education into the dark world of ‘white power’ and director Daniel Ragussis never holds back from highlighting the horrors it consists of. Of course I was aware that this kind of political movement still existed today but I don’t think I quite understood the extent of the vicious nature of it and how devoted many of its supporters are. Amongst all of the horror films that we’ve seen this year the reality of the content of this film could be the most terrifying thing we will see in 2016. For a film with a running time of under two hours I thought that it had the right balance of information and entertainment. The audience will never be bored by the factual insights on offer here and even if there was risk of this the narrative allows for engagement of a different kind meaning that the majority of viewers should be satisfied. However, the start of the film doesn’t make the best case for itself. After a chilling opening quote the film just feels awkward. This is possibly due to Daniel Radcliffe portraying a FBI agent, I just didn’t buy it. Although as the films opening scenes unfold his character lends himself to this kind of reaction. Other than this the only issue I really had with the film was that when the undercover section of the film begins I didn’t find Radcliffe’s characters objectives that clear.
On the topic of our leading man, I thought that Radcliffe was actually very good here. What started off being quite an unconvincing performance turned into a very natural one. FBI agent and white supremacist are two roles you wouldn’t ever imagine Radcliffe playing but he gives it his everything here and does well. Alongside him the main cast member is Toni Collette, once again not necessarily a duo you would immediately put together but the pair have great chemistry. Unlike Radcliffe, Collette is right at home with her role from the word go. As a superior FBI agent she comes across as a pain in the ass to work with but ultimately one that knows what she is doing and with possibly more chewing of gum than actual lines Collette rocks the role. The most important thing in undercover movies like ‘Imperium’ is the tension. Bryan Cranston recently starred in ‘The Infiltrator’ which narratively is quite similar, swap out Nazis for drugs in this instance. The film was a very dull affair though and could learn a lot from ‘Imperium’. The tense atmosphere was always a component of every undercover scene and many are very uncomfortable to watch but in the best way. This carries on throughout the whole film, but it’s only one of the reasons that the film is such a success.
‘Imperium’ is a rare insight into a terrifying world but it is never afraid to inform its audience. This is more than just a political or historical lesson though as the film is also entertaining. This is achieved through the likeable leads strong performances and a generous helping of tension for the entirety of the run time. It stumbles slightly in the first act but not enough to stop you from seeing it, if you enjoy undercover movies ‘Imperium’ could be a new favourite.
‘Imperium’ is available to watch on We Are Colony now.
Rating – 8/10
Question: What is your favourite non Harry Potter role of Daniel Radcliffe’s?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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