"words build bridges to unexplored regions"
That quote opens the film "Imperium" and it was said by none other than Adolf Hitler. I guess he would know, after all unfortunately, he got an entire country to reject and decimate an entire race of people with his own words. If "Imperium" reminds us of anything, its the power of words. Whether you start a group or a business or anything where you need help, you use your words. We are social creatures. How we are influenced by anything is worth words, how somebody uses their words is the basis of what we believe in.
"Imperium" stars Daniel Radcliffe as Nate Foster, an FBI agent who has dabbled in undercover work. He has a way of making prisoners comfortable to talk to them. He's so good at connecting with people in interrogations that his boss (Toni Collette) offers him a big job. There is a report of illegal imports of Caesium-137. Foster's boss believes that the illegal imports are connected to white supremacist groups in their area and Foster is chosen to go undercover to see how the imports connect with the group. Foster has never had much undercover training, but his bosses believe that he would be a good candidate due to his interrogating skills. After all, any undercover work is just influencing people and making them trust you, right? That is its true basis.
That's the grand metaphor for "Imperium," we see how white supremacist influence others. The face of the white supremacists in the film is Dallas Wolf (Tracy Letts), think of Dallas Wolf as an radical, far-right Rush Limbaugh, he uses his radio show as an influence of hate. Foster uses his own influences to a group of skin heads to trust him, who may or may not have something to do with the Caesium-137 imports. The film isn't scary because we dealing with white supremacy alone, its a scary movie because director Daniel Ragussus makes this lifestyle come off as something normal. That the slick, subtle, terrifying genius of "Imperium."
What also makes "Imperium" work is the outstanding work by Daniel Radcliffe. I think Radcliffe will definitely have a career as long as a lifetime. He's got a great American accent in the film and he makes a believable vulnerable agent as well as vile supremacist. The film is anchored under Radcliffe shoulders and he swiftly carries the film. He has a wonderful bad of support from Collette, Letts, and Nestor Carbonell. All of whom do equally outstanding work.
My only gripe is that once Foster is under cover, the film kind of becomes a case of "whose really behind the bomb plot?" We know it may or may not be the hate group who is planning to bomb, just a hint of evidence points to them. Foster has to find out for sure, this leads to a whole lot of "is it this person, is it that person?" The film is constantly trying to keep us on edge introducing us to various people in the hate group? The only problem is that its structured like a TV movie. The real bad guy of this film is standing right under your nose the whole time, which makes the entire adventure predictable.
But the performances are so strong that its hard to find too much fault in some minor structure issues. The film does a great job of highlighting the horrors of extreme hate and what they can come to. How influence and victimization can create monsters, people we may not be proud of later on in life. "Imperium" is mostly masterful.
FINAL GRADE: B+