First Look Review: Imperium

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80%
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Tense

A thrilling and incredibly uncomfortable watch at times that provides an eye opening reminder of the very dangerous mentalities that are alive and kicking in today's society.

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Daniel Radcliffe explores uncharted territory and finds a new high in his acting career in the unsettling thriller Imperium.

Radcliffe plays uncover FBI agent Nate Foster who attempts to infiltrate and expose a white supremacist group. Nate deals with several different types of white supremacists, including neo-Nazi skinheads, militant members with the guns and the equipment, and the most disturbing branch – the middle aged family men who are indoctrinating their children into the racist mind-set of the KKK. These are the men who really mean business.

Daniel Radcliffe is well past the point of only having Harry Potter attached to him as a notable performance in his filmography, but Imperium really is a monumental step up in his acting credibility. He plays not one, but two personas in Imperium; the first, is a clumsy, awkward introvert who would not be anyone’s first choice for an undercover neo-Nazi. The second is a constructed identity which requires Nate to do immense amounts of studying to be as convincing a Nazi skinhead as possible.

Radcliffe really is fantastic in the role of Nate. He so confidently embraces the sickening yet very real qualities of a Nazi skinhead. However, Radcliffe goes above and beyond, delivering a multi-layered performance with his white supremacist personality, which must be convincing for both the audience and his fellow skinheads. Not only does he do this convincingly, but his sheer distress stemming from the fear and disgust which he must suppress for the entirety of his time with them, is palpable. The tension at times is overwhelming and serves to heighten the drama in the film and remind the audience of the real danger in undertaking such a mission.

The behaviour witnessed is quite sickening, and as if this isn’t enough, director Daniel Ragussis uses montage sequences of flashing footage of notorious racist figures, marches and events. Although this could be considered a lazy way to remind people that they should be shocked, it is quite effective in emphasising the wider context of the events.

Fellow FBI detective Angela Zamparo (Toni Collette) who puts Nate up to the mission rightly notes: “just because you’re not looking at something doesn’t mean it isn’t there.” This mentality gives the film a longer lasting impact, which reminds us that the paranoia created by the media makes us forget about the threats we don’t hear about. In the same way, the most seemingly ordinary people can have the most dangerous of thoughts. It reminds us to look at the mentality of people supporting ignorant figures who are increasingly legitimising racist and separatist thoughts. It reminds us that maybe we’re scared of the wrong things.

Imperium is a very confident and high quality addition to Daniel Ragussis’ limited filmography. It’s engaging and evokes a number of raw and passionate emotions. Frustrating yet strangely optimistic, this is a really fantastic watch.

Imperium (2016), directed by Daniel Ragussis, is distributed in the UK by Signature Entertainment. Certificate 15.

 

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Former Film Editor for The Edge, second year history student, Irish dancer and film enthusiast. My biggest inspiration is by Bear Grylls. Yes Bear Grylls. Originally from West London.

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