Sunday, 11 September 2016

Imperium (4 Stars)

Daniel Radcliffe stars as Nate Foster, a young FBI agent in Washington, DC. Four barrels of Caesium-137 have been stolen and the FBI fears a terror attack is imminent. Most of the FBI believes that radical Moslems will attack, but one lone voice, agent Angela Zamparo, suspects that the stolen material is in the possession of right wing extremists. The main suspect is Dallas Wolf, the code name of an unknown man who posts audio broadcasts on the Internet each night. He seems to be promoting a race war that has the goal of removing Jews, blacks and Hispanics from the USA.

Nate is sent undercover, disguised as a skinhead, to get close to Dallas Wolf. He finds out that something big is happening. Different white power groups are meeting to form an alliance. Nate's first contact is with other skinheads, rowdy thugs who beat up blacks just because they look different. But there are others. The Aryan Alliance is a Christian group which incorporates religion into their fanaticism. Then there are intellectual groups that have come to white supremacy through reading books. They're polite well-mannered people who sit sipping tea and eating cupcakes. We also see the Ku Klux Klan, who seem to prefer brash displays of unity to taking action against their enemies. Each group is critical of the others, but they're united by their belief in white supremacy.

Unlike other films about white power, such as "American History X" and "Green Room", "Imperium" doesn't attempt to lecture the viewer on the evils of extremism. It assumes that the viewer already knows that white power movements are wrong. Instead, the film attempts to help us understand the different movements. It's true, the skinheads are completely revolting, but the members of the other groups are presented as human beings with strengths and weaknesses, people we can relate to. Racists aren't just dim-witted lunatics, they're also university graduates.

This is a thought-provoking film which I strongly recommend. Daniel Radcliffe puts on an amazing performance as a young man gets drawn ever deeper into a world that he hates.

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