Imperium movie full length review - Pressure Cooker Inside the Fifth Column
Imperium is an independent feature film in the thriller genre. It's Donnie Brasco meets The Black Legion. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter, Swiss Army Man) stars as a nerdy undercover cop for the FBI.
Toni Collette plays opposite as the mannish Sandra Bullock type lady cop, or agent, if you will. She kills in the role. His mission is to get to the bottom of a biological terrorist plot by infiltrating the underground world of white supremacist extremist groups. It was billed as being based on real events.
From a slow burn, Imperium succeeds in building dramatic tension underscored with ambient music. They tried fast scrolls of expository stills and broke the flow, giving it an internet look. Let the story tell the story.
The title refers the upper echelon of the Roman legion and also a propaganda book exchanged between characters to incite race war. According to one of the conspiratorial conspiracy theorists depicted, the bible was a Jewish plot to overthrow the Roman Empire. After all, why else would Jews invent the printing press? I never knew Guttenberg was a Jew. Well, his name does end in "berg." I'm not so sure about the historical accuracy of that fact, but Daniel Radcliffe is half-Jewish. It's just another ironic twist in this look at the warped psychology of domestic terrorists on the American Far Right.
The neo-Nazis have one guilty pleasure: liking Jewish creations because they can't help it! They don't live in a cave and come on, Jews listen to Wagner. However, it seems less likely that one like that would lament the "loss of rights" for American blacks and Arabs, which he identifies with, in one scene.
The characters are preoccupied with events from the 1990s, most of all Timothy McVeigh's attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City. The casting was mostly good. Radcliffe plays scared throughout this tense, inverted conspiracy thriller. I thought the redemption and character growth were cliché: a young skinhead somehow learns the error of his ways and Radcliffe's intellectual gains physical confidence.
Radcliffe's protagonist struggles with the frustration of how to change the mindset of someone who follows Napoleon and Adolph Hitler. I would try reasoning with them. The ideology isn't exactly based on a foundation of rock solid pillars. Radcliffe's protagonist doesn't even rebut it. He has a cover to maintain, but it bothers him inside because he grows to like the terrorists and connect with them mentally. He could relate to them as social misfits longing to lash out at the cruel world around them, society. It's nerd rage.
A tone is set in the first act about looking for something in the place where you least expect it. Yet the long arm of the law misses what is right in front of them the whole time by neglecting the obvious. Another theme was the power of words. When it comes to literary quotes, less is more. The memorable lines should be original and quotable from a film's dialogue. If there is some pithy philosophical, symbolic, or ironic point to make, it should be summed up in one borrowed quote to leave the audience with.
Imperium is not on equal footing with classics such as The Boys From Brazil and Marathon Man, but it's a solid thriller and an interesting exploration of the subject matter.