This year, the ZFF – Zurich Film Festival impressed most with not just the physical appearance of one actor but also two of his movies. His name is Daniel Radcliffe and the first movie we’re going to look at is Imperium.
Nate Foster (Daniel Radcliffe) is a nerd. He works for the FBI but barely passed the physical test that all agents need to go through. He is the butt of his joke in his office and he learns Arabic for fun as much as he’s studying it for his job. Because Nate is an analyst for all things terrorism, currently investigating the threat that Islam may or may not pose. He’s not very happy, though, so when Agent Angela Zamparo (Toni Collette) approaches him to investigate a threat undercover, it takes her very little in the ways of convincing.
The threat Nate is sent to investigate has nothing to do with Muslim terrorists, but with Nazis. Angela appears to have solid intelligence that the White Supremacist scene is up to something but she is not making any headway. Therefore: Nate shaves his head and goes undercover.
The Many Faces of Evil
What makes Imperium stand out is not its incredibly deep plot, but the sheer variety of characters and types it portrays. Also, it shows that Daniel Radcliffe has an amazing range as an actor. I totally buy not only his nerdy analyst act, but also his die hard Nazi. No wonder the Nazis in the movie take a liking to him.
And, oddly enough, viewers are supposed to take a liking to the Nazis as well. Because even though they’re the usual “Sieg Heil” yelling, racist people we all know and meet in the world, Imperium shows them as human beings with facets and flaws but also good qualities. They’re proud, funny, charming, friendly and some you even end up pitying.
It’s at this point that the movie reveals itself to be more in the vein of a good Whodunit without there actually having been a crime committed rather than an action thriller with lots of gunfire and explosions. Everyone appears to be playing their own mindgame, sometimes with other Nazis, sometimes with regular people, sometimes with the entire world.
If it Weren’t For That One Scene
Imperium plays out unexpectedly and does one thing right. It leave viewers alone with their emotions. There’s never a Come to Jesus talk or a scene where people reflect uon their actions, justify or explain them. It’s all what it is. Up until the last scene that is.
For some reason, it has been decided that there must be a scene where a character is redeemed and the whole movie immediately gets a very cheesy feel. Much like an After School Special, the makers of the film have decided that there must now be a scene where the movie’s moral is now explained in the form of a voice over. Because, you know, people might not have understood it.
But that would be the beauty of the movie: It would leave viewers to draw their own conclusions. I suppose the scene is in there because nobody wants to be accused of making a movie that the real-life White Supremacists actually like and identify with. And it’s that one little thought that keeps the movie from being truly great as the ability of a story to let the thoughts run wild is removed by caging them up.
All in all, Imperium is a good watch and I certainly don’t regret seeing it.