Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Daniel Radcliffe, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts, Sam Trammell, Nestor Carbonell, Chris Sullivan, Seth Numrich, Pawel Szajda, Devin Druid, Burn Gorman, Adam Meier, Roger Yawson, Linc Hand, Vanessa Ore, Jasson Finney
Written by: Daniel Ragussis, based on a story by Michael German
Directed by: Daniel Ragussis
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout
Running Time: 109
Date: 08/19/2016
IMDB

Imperium (2016)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

White Cliques

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Daniel Ragussis's debut feature is better at being a suspense thriller than it is at being socially relevant, but at the same time, it has moments in which it terrifies and inspires despair and dread.

When a white supremacist talk radio host, Dallas Wolf (Tracy Letts), reveals that he has information about an upcoming big event, the FBI takes notice. Agent Angela Zamparo (Toni Collette) singles out the withdrawn, diminutive Nate Foster (Daniel Radcliffe) to go undercover, infiltrate some of the white supremacy groups, and get close to Wolf.

Foster meets with some violent, hateful thugs, and a religious group before finding the intelligent, idealistic Gerry Conway (Sam Trammell), who, like Nate, loves classical music and is a reader and a deep thinker. When Wolf proves a dead end, it's Conway who proves to be more dangerous. But can Nate blow the whistle before he gets too deeply involved?

Radcliffe is the key to everything working; he's shown to be the antithesis of a traditional tough guy, shorter than everyone else, a lover of classical music, and in need of glasses. His performance as an undercover agent is slightly desperate and panicked, but his nice-guy quality is disarming; one skinhead punk remarks, disbelieving, that, "everyone likes you."

Whenever the plot jumps too quickly or skips a step, it's Radcliffe who glues it all back together. Likewise Sam Trammell is surprisingly effective as a deeply thoughtful white supremacist, the scariest of the bunch, because he's soft-spoken and unhurried. Rounding out the story's corners, Toni Collette and Tracy Letts are equally great, and they all work together to nail down the volatile, yet simplistic story.

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