Nate Foster (Daniel Radcliffe) is an FBI new recruit working in counter-terrorism in Washington D.C. He is unassuming and isolated in his eccentric brand of intelligence. When a possible White Supremacist terrorist plot surfaces, Foster is called upon to go undercover within the group to stifle any attack plan.
There is a fury to Imperium, first evidenced in an expository montage containing still images of real-life neo-Nazism. This fury becomes more subdued from here, although it is an ever-present factor in the rage-filled characters.
This said, what is perhaps most fascinating about the film is that, in spite of the vicious bigotry, there is a multi-faceted depiction of White Supremacy. This isn’t purely the white-knuckle aggression of American History X, although that too is incredibly apparent. We see internal struggles over differing Aryan ideologies and particular White Supremacist characters who go against the hegemonic understanding of such people. As horrifying as all of the neo-Nazism is, the nuanced vision is something that has not been seen on screen before.
Radcliffe tries something completely different with this role, and it works. With this and Swiss Army Man, Radcliffe is showing a previously unseen range. This is proving to be a career high year for Radcliffe.
Imperium is frightening and fascinating. Tension and strong performances champion a compelling narrative that has nuance. It may fall into basic crime thriller formula from time to time as Foster relays information back to his superiors, but that does not detract from the engrossing nature of the highly volatile setting that the character is placed into. Imperium is by no means an easy watch, but it is still a film worth watching. Director Daniel Ragussis definitely shows skill in his feature debut.
Imperium is currently available to rent on Amazon Video here.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)