ⓘ Imperium (2016 film)


ⓘ Imperium (2016 film)

Imperium is a 2016 American crime thriller film written and directed by Daniel Ragussis from a story by Michael German. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts, Nestor Carbonell, and Sam Trammell. The film was released on August 19, 2016 in a limited release and through video on demand by Lionsgate Premiere.


1. Plot

Nate Foster is a young FBI analyst working to uncover highly classified terrorist plots. After some illegally imported caesium-137 is stolen, Nate is recruited by Angela Zamparo, a fellow FBI agent, who suspects the involvement of white supremacist groups.

Through Zamparos connections, Foster is introduced to a small group of Neo-Nazis led by Vince Sargent, a local leader who is familiar with their prime suspect, conservative talk radio host Dallas Wolf. Wolf, a figurehead in the movement for his incendiary rhetoric, assembles a gathering of the largest and most influential groups in the northeast. With Sargents introductions, Foster becomes ingratiated in the movement and meets Andrew Blackwell, the leader of a premier white supremacist militia, as well as gaining Wolfs attention by convincing him he can fund an expansion of his radio show. Foster also becomes fast friends with Gerry Conway, a white collar engineer and family man, also with white supremacist sympathies.

After earning Blackwells trust by saving him during an attack on a white power rally by anti-fascists, Foster is brought to a crude military complex operated by Andrews militia. There, Blackwell reveals that he has blueprints for the municipal water network of Washington, D.C. and is plotting an attack.

The FBI begins to suspect that Wolf and Blackwell are working together after Foster meets Wolf at his home and discovers that his house sets off Fosters Geiger counter. Foster attempts to integrate himself into a possible plot by offering Wolf a substantial financial investment.

Instead, Wolf becomes hostile and reports Foster to the FBI. It is revealed that he is merely an entertainer and does not believe in the cause, and that he has undergone radiation therapy for prostate cancer, which was registered by the Geiger counter. Blackwell is meanwhile also dismissed as a possible threat, as he appears to use the D.C. water network plans as a way to lure in potential recruits with promise of participating in an impending terror attack. With no further leads, the case is ordered to be closed by Fosters and Zamparos superior. Angered at wasting his efforts, Foster prepares to have his cover identity leave the city.

Foster meets Conway to make his final farewells. Sensing his genuine feelings of uselessness, Conway confides in Foster his membership in a domestic terrorist cell. It is revealed that Conway and his allies are in possession of the caesium and are plotting to detonate a dirty bomb. With Conways introduction, Foster joins the group as supplier of the explosive TATP. Though his cover is nearly blown several times by the paranoid terrorists, Foster manages to locate the caesium in Conways home, leading the FBI to stop and arrest the terrorists before they are able to carry out the plot. Satisfied that he has made a difference, Foster makes one last visit to Johnny, a teenager and former member of Sargents gang who no longer believes in the cause.


2.1. Production Development

Ragussis based his story on the experiences of FBI agent Michael German, who spent a year undercover with white supremacists. German wrote a book based upon his experience called Thinking Like a Terrorist: Insights of a Former FBI Undercover Agent, and after Ragussis read the book, he reached out to German for help in creating Imperium. The two of them together then came up with the basic story for the movie.

On July 30, 2015, it was announced that Radcliffe had been cast in the lead role, portraying a young FBI agent who goes undercover to find and stop white supremacists trying to make a dirty bomb. The film marks the feature-length directorial debut of Daniel Ragussis. Toni Collette, Sam Trammell, and Tracy Letts joined the cast of the film on October 8, 2015.


2.2. Production Filming

Principal photography began in late September 2015, with filming taking place in Richmond, Virginia and the nearby city of Hopewell. The first images of Radcliffe on the set, with a shaved head, were released on September 22, 2015.


3. Release

In September 2015, it was reported that Signature Entertainment had pre-bought the rights to the film for the United Kingdom. Lionsgate Premiere acquired the United States domestic rights in early October 2015. The film was released in a limited release and through video on demand on August 19, 2016.


3.1. Release Critical response

Imperium was generally well received. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 85%, based on 65 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The sites critical consensus reads, "The unsettling Imperium boasts troublingly timely themes and a talented cast led by Daniel Radcliffe as an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a ring of white supremacists." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 68 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". The film was a New York Times Critics Pick. The Los Angeles Times called it "impressively dimensional. tense, gripping and disturbing," Slant magazine called it "bold political cinema," and Entertainment Weekly said the film was "a tense, chilling thriller. Radcliffe is brilliant."