Imperium (2016) Review

Director: Daniel Ragussis

Writer: Daniel Ragussis (Based on a story by Michael German)

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts, Sam Trammell

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Daniel Radcliffe is an actor who doesn’t do things by halves. He has played a boy wizard that the world is familiar with. He’s played a guy with horns sprouting from his forehead. He recently played a corpse in Swiss Army Man, and here, in Imperium, he plays an FBI agent who goes undercover as a white supremacist.

Directed and written by Daniel Ragussis (Haber) and based on a true account from Michael German, Imperium follows an FBI agent who is given a proposal to go undercover with a white supremacist group. His job is to infiltrate the group and learn more about a potential nuclear attack. Introducing himself to the group, Nate Foster (Radcliffe), finds himself in a dangerous world in which saying the wrong thing could have devastating consequences. Nate meets more and more people in the new community that he is part of, and as his superiors begin to doubt his abilities, things begin to heat up and the danger of being found out heightens.

Imperium is half thriller and half drama and deals with a story that is apparently a true account. It’s obvious, like in many of these instances, that much of what is seen here isn’t exactly factual and merely based on events that occurred, and while there is plenty here to be interested in, there is just not enough going on. There are moments here where things begin to get tense and the world that Nate finds himself in appears like it could get very worrisome, but the action and powerful consequences just don’t really occur. I found myself waiting for some scenes to really heat up the film and take it from being a dialogue-heavy drama to an edge-of-seat thriller, but that didn’t exactly happen.

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Radcliffe, as Nate, does a fine job. He’s an accomplished actor and he did what he could with the material he had, but there was just not enough going on to elevate that performance, or the film for that matter, to another level. There are films that deal with this kind of subject that are heart-thumping and extreme like American History X, but sadly this falls short and becomes just an okay and middle of the road film that suffers from a lack of intensity. Radcliffe is good, and his co-star Toni Collette does a great job playing Nate’s superior, but it is just a bit too limp.

It does nothing in a way that seems special, be it the sound, the cinematography or the writing, but the acting is far and away the redeeming quality of Imperium. See it for the performances and to see Radcliffe test himself further as an actor.

2.75 out of 5

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