Wednesday, August 24, 2016

[Review] Imperium

With Daniel Radcliffe front and center, the new limited/VOD release Imperium delves into the ugly and despicable subculture of white-supremacists. It manages to be different from American History X and even this year's Green Room, but it isn't nearly as potent as either one.

Inspired by real events, Nate (Radcliffe), an introverted and empathetic FBI agent with little experience out in the field, is recruited to go undercover as an informant in order to infiltrate a neo-Nazi organization and thwart their terroristic plots. It's a premise that actually sounds a lot like the Melissa McCarthy comedy Spy--until the skinhead part. Oh, and it's obviously not a comedy...

The film totes a fairly keen screenplay that mines for teetering conflict and dilemmas in every situation that Nate is involved in: The task of deeply establishing a false identity--even getting permanent ink, while attempting to keep any notion of his real self concealed... Being forced to engage in criminal activities that are obviously against his beliefs on multiple levels... The nerve-racking perils of being one slip-up away from death amongst such a ruthless group of people... At one point, he's interrogated for wearing a pair of Levi's, or as his skinhead boss calls them - "Jew Jeans".

Between playing a farting corpse and now a neo-Nazi, it's safe to say Daniel Radcliffe has chosen a variety of audacious roles lately, and even though his English accent sneaks through a bit here, he still does a swell job--essentially playing two multi-dimensional roles within the same film.

Unfortunately, the film itself is not as gritty or impactful as I'd hoped. It loses some tension toward the end, and it takes a really formulaic way out that we've seen dozens of times in undercover fed movies. Still, watch it for Radcliffe.

( 7/10 )

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