Idealistic FBI agent Nate Foster (Daniel Radcliffe) goes undercover to take down a radical white supremacy terrorist group. The up-and-coming analyst must confront the challenge of sticking to a new identity while maintaining his real principles as he navigates the dangerous underworld of white supremacy.
Now if you’ve been following my site, then you know I reached 1000 posts recently with a TV recap of the second episode of Designated Survivor which you can read here. An important distinction is that I did not write all 1000 posts. What makes this post important is that it is my personal 1000th post.
Daniel Radcliffe has really been trying to distance himself from Harry Potter, especially this year. First he was a magical, talking corpse in Swiss Army Man and now here as an undercover white supremacist in Imperium. Here he plays a young, principled FBI agent named Nate Foster. Being mainly an analyst, he hasn’t yet experienced any field action but when the opportunity arose itself as he was tasked to go undercover among the world of white supremacy in order to locate illegal radioactive material.
Because the film deals with the world of white supremacy, it does not shy away from its depiction of it. Its intensity speaks to the film’s authenticity but may be too much for some. The film follows Foster as he infiltrates local supremacist groups and their potential involvement with a bomb. To do this, he moves from group to group, making relationships along the way. The surprising thing was that someone who was so inexperience was able to go so far. The suspenseful thing about this was whether or not he can keep it going long enough, although he did come close to being caught. This all occurred rather predictably but was still compelling to watch.
This was compelling to watch as the film took us through this world but it felt for the longest time that the film was going nowhere. It’s a suspense film and Foster needed time to get into these groups but the plot moved at a rather slow pace. This was done to have us think about what we were seeing. This also made the end feel underwhelming. The groups in which Foster infiltrated were kind of interesting but were a little underdeveloped. There wasn’t much to any of those characters and seemed more like a means to an end. The only interesting character was a right-wing supremacist radio host named Dallas Wolf (Tracy Letts) who happens to be involved with the other groups somehow.
The best part of the film has to be watching Foster’s transformation from timid FBI agent to full-on white supremacist. While he was entrenched with them, there was still an inner conflict within him that we could see. He struggled with this, making us wonder if he would jeopardize his own position. On the other side, there was the bureaucracy within the FBI. While it was east for the FBI and Agent Tom Hernandez (Nestor Carbonell) to point the finger at Muslims, Agent Angela Zamparo (Toni Collette) was pushing the white supremacist angle to begin with. She was the one who tasked Foster the undercover mission. They spent a lot of time together which led to some fun exchanges between the two. Sure, she started off using him for her own agenda but Foster bought in as he saw all the good he was doing.
The acting here was very good all around with Radcliffe simply disappearing in the role of Foster. Maybe because this role was such a departure for him, it was easy to forget that it was even him. He was great at handling Foster’s inner conflict and dealing with all the film’s more tense scenes. Collette was good as Zamparo. Her chemistry with Radcliffe made their scenes fun to watch. Carbonell was good too but he didn’t really have much to do.
Overall, this was an exciting film, featuring a fun journey by Radcliffe but the film failed at its message by treading around too long and not going far enough.