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Review - Imperium

By midlandsmovies, Sep 26 2016 03:24PM

Imperium (2016) Dir. Daniel Ragussis

With vaguely similar themes to this year’s Green Room and with Donald Trump’s presidential run to the white house in full flow, “white power” is very much in the public conscious in 2016. This thriller, written and directed by Daniel Ragussis, stars Daniel Radcliffe as Nate Foster who is an FBI agent that goes undercover in a white-supremacist group to expose and disrupt their bombing plans.

Radcliffe is great as the studious office worker who is asked by a superior agent – played by an understated Toni Collette – to shave his head and blend in with the fanatics’ aims to unleash a dirty bomb.

The tension is high every time he meets the group with his cover being almost blown a number of times and Radcliffe’s American accent is entirely convincing and as good as the one he delivered in Horns. Again, as someone who isn’t particularly au fait with early Radcliffe, the post-Potter roles chosen by the actor (including this year’s Swiss Army Man where he plays a corpse) have been brilliantly selected.

Against type, Radcliffe centres the film with a “role within a role” playing simple scenes with a false cockiness that gives an undercurrent of doubt in every conversation. Being found out at any time is a constant worry and Radcliffe handles this duality very well as he tiptoes around any awkward exchanges.

A family-man plot parallels the theme of duplicity as a close-knit suburban father with a welcoming demeanour hides a much darker secret whilst there are allusions to the real life right-wing figures of Timothy McVeigh and Rush Limbaugh.

Apart from Radcliffe though the film tends to boil down to a run-of-the-mill drama with a dashing of ticking-clock thriller. One strong central performance helps the film’s core but cannot completely sustain it unfortunately. Conversely for me, it was nice to see the character not tempted by the other side (unlike British film “I.D.”) whilst others may feel this a lost opportunity to add more layers.

With the USA’s current political landscape a mix of racial disharmony and extreme solutions, Imperium looks much closer to home for its villains and tackles a range of home-grown topical issues. Sadly, Radcliffe aside, the film’s stereotypical narrative beats failed to lift this beyond its well-worn premise but the first time director handles the themes and issues with a mature capability making Ragussis definitely one to watch.


Midlands Movies Mike

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