Summer Round-Up: ‘Imperium’ Short Review

I’m afraid I haven’t been able to keep up with as many reviews as I’d have liked to in the last couple of months. No interesting reason, I’ve just been super busy. Anyway I’m hoping to watch and review a load of horror movies next month so want to put out some short reviews now of other movies I saw this summer but didn’t manage to fully review, starting with Imperium.

Even if the results haven’t always quite worked out, I’ve really respected the choices Daniel Radcliffe has been making in his post-Potter career. At a glance, Neo-Nazi Imperium could have sounded like his most daring role yet, but he is not actually playing a Nazi himself here. Rather, his role is that of a young, introverted FBI agent who agrees to pose as a disgruntled ex-soldier with white supremacist leanings in order to try and infiltrate a local group that his superior (a sterling Toni Collette) believes could harbour real danger.

While it has plenty of familiar, tension-baiting ‘cop-undercover’ beats, what makes Imperium most interesting is the breadth of different types of white supremacists it portrays, ranging from the obvious street skinhead thugs to far less conspicuous members. By far the two who most fascinate are an underground, far-right-wing radio host (Tracy Letts) with a though-provoking secret, and Sam Trammell as a family man whose exterior seems to be the ideal image of a ‘nice guy’, even though beneath this he’ll gamely discuss his blatantly racist views and justify his reasons for holding them.

This gripping thriller from first time director Daniel Ragussis also boasts another promisingly committed performance from Radcliffe, though I can’t quite decide if there’s actually anything wrong with his American accent or if it’s just that it sounds weird coming from him. As he gets deeper into the group, the film goes in a direction that wasn’t the one I’d hoped it would, and I think it might have been a better story had it opted for a more subversive angle but still, it’s a solid crime movie containing a fascinating portrait of the many levels of Neo-Nazism prominent in the USA today.

4/5

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