Say what you will about Daniel Radcliffe, but he is taking a lot of different roles and he is really trying to break type casting from being known as I previously called him “The Harry Potter Kid.” After finishing the Harry Potter franchise, he broke out of the fantasy world, and tried his hand at many different genres. He did a couple of horror movies, The Woman In Black (2012), Horns (2013), even in some respects Victor Frankenstein (2015) can be considered horror. He also did Swiss Army Man earlier this year, which I believed to be his best role, where he played Manny the farting corpse (its still fun to think about).
Completely opposite I think to every other role Radcliffe has ever done, he just had a film come out called Imperium. In German, Imperium means “Empire,” and is synonymous with the German world “Reich.” The film follows an FBI agent named Nate Foster (Daniel Radcliffe) who goes undercover to take down a radical white supremacy terrorist group. The up-and-coming analyst must confront the challenge of sticking to a new identity while maintaining his real principles as he navigates the dangerous underworld of white supremacy.
Directed by Daniel Ragussis, in his first full length directorial debut. Ragussis did a great job directing, and he has a very real tone to the movie. I thought it was very grounded and seemed extremely real throughout. Thats probably a good thing because before the title card, the film stated that the film was “based on actual events.” I thought that he did a great job in creating tension, it seemed what all good undercover cop movies should be, a brilliant game of cat and mouse.
Not only did Daniel Radcliffe do a good job in this film (which I did have some issues with), which as I stated earlier was a completely different role for him. We also had the brilliance of Toni Collette, who starred in The Sixth Sense (1999), Little Miss Sunshine (2008), and The Way Way Back (2013). She plays Daniel Radcliffe’s handler in the movie, and she plays the perfect asshole boss. She’s rude and wants results but is also somewhat caring the well-being of Nate. On the opposite side of the law, the only person I noticed from other roles was Sam Trammell, who starred in True Blood as Sam Merlotte from 2008-2014, The Fault In Our Stars (2014) and Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem. I thought it was a change of pace for him, he’s usually the fun loving owner of Merlotte’s in True Blood, and thats always what I think of when I think of his previous roles. But in this he plays a radical neo-nazi who is a full supporter of the white supremacist cause in the film. I thought the whole film was well done.
My issues with the film, and Daniel Radcliffe in general, which could have been a tactic to the movie…but, Daniel Radcliffe when he was undercover was not believable at all in some scenes.
There were some scenes with high tension when he was getting questioned by other white supremacists. There were tells that he was shaking and nervous and the guy questioning him was starring right at him, HOW COULD HE NOT TELL HE WAS LYING!? There were some issues a lot with that, where you could tell that he was losing his grasp on his cover story, but either the supporters of the cause were too dumb to notice or weren’t looking hard enough.
I also had some issues with character development of other characters, I cared only a little bit, but at the end of the movie I was not rooting for any of the characters, but I still enjoyed the movie for what it was. And what it was was a really good thriller.
Prior to this movie, I’ve seen similar films like American History X (1998) starring Edward Norton and Edward Furlong. Which all together, I thought had a better story and better acting. More recently there was Green Room (2016) which was a bit diferent but still extremely well done. But there have also been a lot of really crazy documentaries on Netflix, like Welcome to Leith (2015) which was an absolutely insane and eye opening documentary about the attempted takeover of a small town by a white supremacist, which was good. But I thought Erasing Hate (2011) which was the life story of an former skinhead as he undergoes multiple tattoo removal procedures in order to erase the hate filled past he once had and be able to start a new life. If you’re interested in the subject I would recommend these first over Imperium, but if you’ve seen these already, I would say that Imperium is definitely worth checking out.
Overall, Imperium gets a 3/5 from me. It was a good thriller.