Director: Daniel Ragussis
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts
Release Date: November 1, 2016
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Disc Rating: 8.5/10
Inspired by real events. When extremists steal devastatingly toxic materials in order to build a dirty bomb, FBI Agent Nate Foster (Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter franchise), with help from Agent Zamparo (Toni Collette, The Sixth Sense), goes undercover in order to infiltrate their shadowy underworld. But can Nate find the group’s leader — and the bomb — before his cover is blown?
Inspired by real events, ‘Imperium’ follows FBI Agent Nate Foster (Radcliffe) who after working from behind the scenes for so long becomes involved with an undercover operation headed by Agent Zamparo (Collette) in order to investigate possible extremists within fractions of the local white power movement. As Nate steps into his first undercover role he quickly finds himself constantly surrounded by danger and forced to think on his feet in order to avoid any questions or suspicion. Before long he begins to earn at least some modicum of trust among the others and while appearing motivated and continually useful, he begins to find himself more engulfed within the ranks. Now as time begins to run short and the FBI becomes hesitant to continue onward with the case, Nate must trust his instincts and push some dangerous limits if he stands any chance of uncovering the real threat and those controlling it.
Directed by Daniel Ragussis from a script he additionally wrote based upon a story by Michael German which revolves around many of German’s real life experiences in the field, Ragussis does an outstanding job at the helm of ‘Imperium’ which also marks his feature length filmmaking debut. The film also owes a great deal of credit to the talented folks that comprise the cast including Daniel Radcliffe (the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise), Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Krampus), Tracy Letts (The Big Short, TV’s Homeland), Sam Trammell (Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, TV’s True Blood), Nestor Carbonell (The Dark Knight, TV’s Bates Motel), Chris Sullivan (The Drop, TV’s This Is Us) and a number more, nearly all of whom deliver solid performances at the very least in each of their respective roles. Nonetheless, the talented Radcliffe has no trouble stealing the show with what is unquestionably one of his most impressive performances to date.
‘Imperium’ is an intense, thrilling and powerful crime drama, and simply a fantastic piece of filmmaking as a whole. It nary misses a beat and should have no issue pulling the viewer in with the opening sequence and never relenting on the tension until the final moments. While so many thrillers dealing with similar subject matter often rely heavily on the level of on screen violence in order to convey the brutality that is usually a key focus of the story, ‘Imperium’ dares to go the opposite route and still manages to deliver a brutal and unrelenting thriller in its own right that relies more on the viewer’s ability to put themselves within these unsettling situations, while keeping the level of violence so tame it’s nearly nonexistent, and certainly never focused upon. The overall effect of which resulting in an even more unsettling experience at times when your mind is allowed to fully explore ideas and generalizations without having them continuously thrown in your face. Guided along with vigor from writer/director Daniel Ragussis who makes a truly memorable feature length directorial debut with ‘Imperium’ that is further complimented by the phenomenal performances from the talented cast including a knockout performance by the ever impressive Daniel Radcliffe; anyone who enjoys a powerful and well constructed thriller that gets in your head definitely won’t want to miss out on this fantastic ride.
Overall, ‘Imperium’ is a tense, riveting and incredibly human crime drama that should easily keep viewers glued to the screen from start to finish. Opting for using more creative methods and exploring the intricate relationships and differences within the individuals we are introduced to as opposed to simply throwing insane quantities of bloody violence in your face, the result forms into an even more intense experience that would likely be achievable from some senseless carnage. ‘Imperium’ easily earns one of my highest recommendations, it’s a smart, tense and just outright fantastic film that marks a truly impressive feature length filmmaking debut from writer and director Daniel Ragussis and featuring Daniel Radcliffe in what is undoubtedly one of his best performances to date.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Imperium’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty solid as a whole and delivers a consistently sharp, detailed and clean presentation. It holds up admirably even during the darkly lit and heavily populated sequences, never causing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a pretty fantastic high definition video presentation that should easily please.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a crisp, clean and occasionally somewhat hard hitting audio presentation from start to finish. Taking advantage of all five available channels in order to send the music and random crowd chatter and activity along with more throughout the various speakers, yet never resulting in any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a more than competent 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Imperium’ includes a number of interesting and informative extras. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Daniel Ragussis and Writer Michael German’ in addition to a couple behind the scenes Featurettes which include interviews/comments with the cast and crew, behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Making Imperium’ (running approximately 19 minutes in length), and ‘Living Undercover’ (running approximately 4 minutes). We are also treated to a number of ‘Cast and Crew Interviews’ including a 2 part ‘Timestalk Interview with Writer/Director Daniel Ragussis and Actor Daniel Radcliffe’ (running approximately 57 minutes combined), plus standard interviews with Actors ‘Daniel Radcliffe’ (approximately 6 minutes), ‘Sam Trammell’ (11 minutes), and Writer ‘Michael German’ (30 minutes). The ‘Theatrical Trailer’ (2 minutes) for the film is also included.