Imperium (2016 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Daniel Ragussis|
|Screenplay by||Daniel Ragussis|
|Story by||Michael German|
|Music by||Will Bates|
|Edited by||Sara Corrigan|
|Distributed by||Lionsgate Premiere|
Imperium is a 2016 American crime thriller film written and directed by Daniel Ragussis (in his feature film debut) 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.
Nate Foster is an FBI agent working to uncover terrorist plots. After some illegally imported caesium-137 is stolen, Foster is recruited by agent Angela Zamparo to perform undercover work to track it down. Zamparo suspects the involvement of white supremacist groups over the suggestion of Islamic extremists after she hears a broadcast from incendiary conservative talk radio host Dallas Wolf hinting at an impending race war involving radiological weapons. Although Foster is bookish and introverted, Zamparo believes his ability to form genuine connections with hostile criminals makes him well-suited for the job.
In preparation, Foster shaves his head and becomes intimately familiar with white supremacist literature and ideology. He constructs a cover identity of a recently discharged military veteran with a medical supply store that could appeal to the extremists as a place to safely house the radioactive material. Through Zamparo's connections, Foster is introduced to a small group of Neo-Nazis led by Vince Sargent, a local leader who is familiar with Wolf. Foster befriends Johnny, a troubled teenager within Sargent's group, and begins regularly spending time with him and Sargent.
With Sargent's introductions, Foster becomes ingratiated in the movement. He meets Andrew Blackwell, the regional leader of a premier white supremacist militia, and gains Wolf's attention by convincing him he can fund an expansion of his radio show. Foster eventually gleans that, although tied to a similar purpose, the various white supremacist groups harbor some resentment towards one another. Foster also becomes fast friends with Gerry Conway, a successful white-collar engineer and family man who shares Nate's deep love of classical music and literature. Although more educated and composed than the brash skinheads he associates with, Conway nonetheless carries white supremacist sympathies and identifies with their desire to fight on behalf of white superiority.
Wolf unites the area's various white supremacist groups to stage a white power rally in Washington, D.C. which Nate attends. It descends into violence after it is attacked by anti-fascists, and Nate earns Blackwell's trust by saving him from the aggressive protesters. In return, Nate is invited to a crude military complex in the wilderness outside of the capital operated by Blackwell's militia. There, Blackwell reveals that he has blueprints for the municipal water network of Washington, DC and is plotting an attack. While at the complex, Foster uses his cover as a military veteran to berate the militia for not properly cleaning their sizable arsenal of military firearms. He demands that they clean each and every one, using the maneuver as a ruse to check the registration numbers on the guns. The FBI also begins to suspect that Wolf and Blackwell are working together after Foster meets Wolf at his home and discovers that his house sets off Foster's Geiger counter.
Sargent eventually visits the complex after noticing Foster's extended disappearance, and is upset to discover that Foster has associated himself with Blackwell's militia. Sargent also reports law enforcement have begun tailing his group, hinting at the possibility that Foster is a mole. Blackwell brings Foster out to a remote campground under the auspices of scouting it for a youth event, but uses the opportunity to prod him on the possibility of infiltrators. He also reveals that a background check ran by Sargent was unable to find any of Foster's military records. Foster successfully deflects these accusations by painting Sargent as reckless miscreant making false claims out of resentment.
Foster eventually attempts to integrate himself into Wolf's possible plot by offering him a substantial financial investment. In return for the money, however, he claims that his investors need direct information on how Wolf intends to ignite his race war. Instead, Wolf becomes hostile and reports Foster to the FBI. During his statement to the FBI, he reveals that he is merely an entertainer and does not believe in the cause, and that he has undergone radiation therapy for prostate cancer, which caused the Geiger counter to alarm in the first place. Blackwell is meanwhile also dismissed as a possible threat, as he appears to use the DC water network plans to merely show off to potential recruits, and that he has no intention of actually carrying out an attack. His firearms also all turn out to be legally registered. With no further leads and Foster's cover in danger of being compromised, the case is ordered to be closed by Zamparo's superior.
With his case closed and angered at wasting his efforts, Foster prepares to have his cover identity leave the city. Before departing, Foster pays one more visit to Conway to make his final farewells. Sensing Foster's genuine feelings of uselessness during their conversation, 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 in order to escalate racial tensions in the US. With Conway's introduction, Foster joins the group under the pretense of supplying them with highly explosive TATP, which he can acquire through his medical supply store. Foster initially thwarts their plot by giving them phony TATP. However, one of the members becomes suspicious of it and instead procures genuine ammonium nitrate to detonate the bomb. On the day of the bomb's intend detonation date, Foster tracks the group to Conway's garage as they are in the final stages of completing their work and finally uncovers the location of missing caesium. Foster alerts the FBI, who 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, who no longer believes in the cause and is giving a lecture to school children about his experiences.
- 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
- Roger Yawson as Usman
- Devin Druid as Johnny
- Pawel Szajda as Vince Sargent
- Chris Sullivan as Andrew Blackwell
- Burn Gorman as Morgan
- Seth Numrich as Roy
- Cora Metzfield as Madeline
- Jasson Finney as Billy
- Maboud Ebrahimzadeh as Abdul
- David Aranovich as Ernest Walton
- Paul H. Chapman as Gary
- Rodney Roldan as Hispanic Man
- Bobby Parker Jr. as a conference attendee
- Morgan Applegate as an AFL protester
- Shawn Singletary as Tim, the wine shop owner
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.
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.
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.
Imperium was generally well received. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 83%, based on 65 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The site's 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."
- The Believer
- American History X
- Green Room
- Freemen on the land
- White supremacist terrorism in the United States
- "Imperium (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 4, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
- "Imperium (2016) - Financial Information". The-numbers.com. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
- Collis, Clark (June 28, 2016). "Imperium: Daniel Radcliffe is an undercover FBI agent in exclusive poster". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
- Lincoln, Ross A. (July 30, 2015). "Daniel Radcliffe To Go Undercover In FBI Thriller 'Imperium'". Deadline Hollywood.
- McNary, Dave (October 8, 2015). "Toni Collette, Sam Trammel Join Daniel Radcliffe's 'Imperium'". Variety.
- Bryan, Alix (September 9, 2015). "Daniel Radcliffe feature 'Imperium' starts filming soon in Central Va". WTVR-TV.
- Sollosi, Mary (September 22, 2015). "First look: Daniel Radcliffe is FBI agent undercover as neo-Nazi in Imperium". Entertainment Weekly.
- Wiseman, Andreas (September 14, 2015). "Signature inks Daniel Radcliffe thriller, Pele biopic". Screen International.
- "Imperium (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
- "Imperium reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
- "Daniel Radcliffe Battles Homegrown Extremists in Imperium". The New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
- "Daniel Radcliffe goes undercover with white supremacists in crime thriller 'Imperium'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
- "Imperium". Slant. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
- "Imperium, ET Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 21, 2016.