Review of "Imperium (DVD)"

published 28/02/2017 | cr01
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"Pocket boy FBI agent roots out racists - Imperium"

If you have your main career young (as a sports star perhaps) then it is often thought that you are also a long time retired; sometimes too impossibly long to contemplate a life without a direct goal or purpose. Perhaps it’s also this thought that propels former child film stars into attempts to launch an equally successful movie career as an adult. Or perhaps it is the desire of avoiding turning into the rather pleasant but very weird relaxed dope head Macaulay Culkin that motivates them.

Anyway for whatever reason, former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe still seems to be desperately trying to cut the strings from his childhood fame by trying out lots of different and new outfits and styles and being filmed doing so. In Imperium (2016) Radcliffe makes for a somewhat unlikely American FBI agent charged with a task of infiltrating far right gangs intent on sparking a race war by creating a dirty bomb. It would seem the former boy wizard is successfully avoiding that “type cast” role.

Midget Marine Boy

I always get a bit confused when actors play actors but here, Radcliffe plays Nate Foster a mild mannered FBI agent who poses as a former pocket Marine boy turned owner of a Medical Supply company (and thus able to get his hands on some nasty chemicals) to lure some of the crazy right wing white supremacists into thinking he can obtain the materials needed to create the outrage event and resultant unrest needed to spark a race war.

Along the way, we meet some of Nate’s colleagues (particularly his boss who sees through Nate’s natural classical music easy going nature to realise he can play a trained killer turned black hating chemist with ease), and the people in the white supremacist movement; some of whom seem very pleasant family people until you mention the word “black” and “integration” to them. Although there are other people in the cast, the film does really focus upon Radcliffe’s role.

I shouldn’t be size-ist but it is slightly amusing to watch the scenes where Radcliffe is conveniently positioned on a bit of a hillock or a kerb corner so he vaguely reaches towards the height of the person he is talking to. Radcliffe is a handsome man, but at a scant 5 foot 5 could hardly be described as tall, dark and handsome. I guess two out of three ain’t bad (and who am I to speak, dear reader, given I can only personally boast “tall”?).
Acting?

I’ve never been overly impressed with Radcliffe’s acting abilities. Here, he does a passable job of playing a shy American FBI agent pretending to be a trained marine wannabe mass murdering businessman. I can’t quite work out whether it’s a good thing or a bad one, but I did notice that Radcliffe rather lost his American accent when he got excited or started shouting. Is it such good acting because when he’s in his “method” shouting zone the American pretence disappears, or is it lousy acting because he can’t hold his accent?

Lost the Plot?

Actually it was me that lost the plot given I bought the DVD of this film on Christmas Eve with a genuine thought that it might make for a nice relaxed family and friends evening film showing. Oh how they laughed on Christmas afternoon when I dared suggest it.

The plot itself was quite interesting although there were moments where I found my mind wandering a little. I did like the way that the film didn’t just show the would be murdering racist supremacists as one dimensional nasty villains; some were family people who genuinely felt a segregated world would be a better place for their children to live in. Others were simply folk on the make; not really agreeing with the ethos but stirring up others and making money out of it. Again, that felt very real to me. Not that I’m equating them to being deluded racists (moi?), it cannot help but strike me that UKIP leaders have made most of their money from the organisation they claim to despise.

I also wondered about entrapment. It felt as though Radcliffe’s role was dangling the prospect of the tools to enable mass destruction and it rather encouraged some of the white supremacists to get carried away with the idea of actually doing things they hitherto had only vaguely thought about. I do wonder about some of the terrorist plots we hear about in this current age and how very convenient they are to enable our political masters to rule us by the threat of fear and in their own desire for total domination strip away our human rights. Would these plots have fermented and progressed as far if it had not been for some “helpful” insider jogging them along. Ha, you will turn me into a conspiracy theorist yet.

It’s a rare film that makes me feel a little bit sympathetic towards white supremacists but I guess anything that makes them appear more real and tangible is not a bad thing, as it also enables one to create the tools to tackle them.

The obligatory Film Review Cast List (stolen from wiki)

• Daniel Radcliffe as Nate Foster
• Toni Collette as Angela Zamparo
• Tracy Letts as Dallas Wolf
• Sam Trammell as Gerry Conway
• Nestor Carbonell as Tom Hernandez
• Devin Druid as Johnny
• Pawel Szajda as Vince Sargent
• Chris Sullivan as Andrew Blackwell
• Burn Gorman as Morgan
• Seth Numrich as Roy
Summing Up

Imperium wasn’t a film for the cinema, and after a very limited screening it moved onto DVD. That’s something of a shame as while it’s no Oscar winner or cult classic, it is a worthy and honest feeling film. Radcliffe certainly does himself no harm in the role and I didn’t imagine him wandering onto Kings Cross Station once, which I guess he would consider something of a result.

At 109 minutes it felt a little bit like the material was stretched out a tad with a few slow and slightly awkward moments, but overall it was a worthwhile film to view and watch.

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Comments on this review

  • siberian-queen published 23/03/2017
    i watched this last week
  • mikemelmak published 14/03/2017
    E worthy - great observations. These days leading men are generally normal and average looking unlike in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Although actors like James Cagney, Edward G Robinson, Bogie & Alan Ladd were on the short side and it didn't hamper their careers! In Guinness Movie Facts & Feats there's a picture of ( supposedly ) Bogie ( legs only ) wearing his platform shoes for Casablanca!
  • IzzyS published 12/03/2017
    Good review. I'd like to see this, have added it to my rental list some time back but I've never been interested in the Harry Potter films(!).
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Product Information : Imperium (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

DVD Region: DVD

Classification: 15 years and over

Production Year: 2016

Actor(s): Daniel Radcliffe, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts

Director(s): Daniel Ragussis

Video Category: Feature Film

EAN: 5060262854600

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