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Film / Imperium

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Yer a Grand Wizard, Harry.
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Imperium is a 2016 thriller written and directed by first-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis. It stars Daniel Radcliffe as Nate Foster, an FBI Agent pencil-pusher who goes undercover to infiltrate Neo-Nazis. The cast also includes Toni Collette, Nestor Carbonell and Burn Gorman.

Not to be confused with that other group of belligerent, WMD-loving xenophobes. Also not to be confused with the Roman Republic historical fiction series by Robert Harris.


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Tropes:

  • Affably Evil: Gerry Conway is a nice, wholesome family man who is also a white supremacist. It's revealed in the end that he's also a domestic terrorist.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Dallas Wolf's real name is Randy something. He changed it because "he's a public entertainer."
  • Badass Bookworm: Nate is very well-read, speaks multiple languages and is very knowledgeable of classical music. One of the first things he does to prepare for going undercover is to read essentially every well-known white supremacist book there is. He's a desk jockey who states that he doesn't know how to defend himself, but he actually has more firearm knowledge than a group of gun-toting white supremacists, enough to pass himself off as a former black-ops Marine.
  • The Brute: Roy is Vince's "head of security." He's a violent and simple-minded thug.
  • Children Are Innocent:
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    • Johnny is one of the younger members of the skinheads, but Nate tries to reach out to him. It works.
    • Gerry's kids. They're fed racist ideals by their parents and the other adults in their lives and they're too young to question any of it. When we're introduced to them, they show Nate their treehouse that their father built for when the "mud faces" attack, and at the end, they're torn up when their father and his friends are arrested by the cops.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Nate paints himself as one briefly by defending his choice to wear a pair of Levi's (a "Jewish" brand) because his brother gifted these to him as a homecoming gift and what he thinks about white supremacy is irrelevant.
    • Gerry Conway is a committed white supremacist and it's revealed he's planning a terrorist attack along with some compatriots. He also has a wife and two children who are clearly his world. The day prior to the planned attack, we see his wife in tears knowing that she's going to lose him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dallas Wolf reports Nate to the FBI for suggesting to him to cause a terrorist attack with the supposed investment from whatever company he represents. As it turns out, Wolf is just in this for the money and fame but doesn't actually want to lead anything.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Angela. Though she's initially hard on Nate, it's only because she's trying to watch out for him. She also tells him that while reaching out to the human side of their subjects would be effective and that she understands that being a mole can feel lonely, she warns him not to get attached and that his job is to find out if they're going to cause trouble, not be their therapist.
  • Guile Hero: Roy is suspicious of Nate from the beginning, and is often able to catch Nate out when he makes small mistakes (like wearing Levi's, a "Jewish" blue jean brand). However, Nate is very good at coming up with answers to neuter any sort of accusation Roy might have about him.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Johnny cleans up his act and speaks to students so they can avoid becoming like him.
  • Important Haircut: We learn that Nate has agreed to go undercover when he buzzes his hair.
  • The Infiltration: Nate infiltrates white supremacists.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Shows up a lot from the Neo-Nazis and their talking points, but of course that's a given from them.
  • Irony: Nate and Angela use kosher salt (David's brand, with a large Star of David on the box) to fake the TATP he presents to the Nazi terrorists.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Gerry describes his parents as liberals, but he felt that it was wrong and that he was angry with something about the world. Then he found racist manifestos...
  • The Mole: The movie is about Nate, an FBI agent, who infiltrates a white supremacist group to find out if they're planning an attack.
  • Not So Different: Nate himself. It's the reason he is picked to go undercover, his ability to connect with the Neo Nazis is why he's such an effective infiltrator.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Nate's black friend outside of his cover sees him at a white supremacist rally and asks him what the hell he's doing. Nate obviously (to us) has an Oh, Crap! moment and is forced to tell him to screw off (by calling him the N-word, no less).
  • One-Word Title: Imperium.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The villains are white supremacists, so this is a given.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Nate paints his cover as one to get suspicion off of his back. In one case, he excuses wearing Levi's because it was a gift from his brother as a gift for returning from Iraq and it doesn't matter in the long run what brand he wears or what his brother thinks about white supremacy, and in another case, he narrowly prevents his "friend" from attacking an interracial couple by pointing out that it would be a rookie move to do so in a very public and surveillance-heavy area where they would be easily identified and tracked down, ruining their chances of doing a race war.
  • Red Herring: Dallas Wolf is not the mastermind of a terrorist conspiracy. He's a fraud who riles up white supremacists for fame and cash. He lives in his mother's house and needs investors to raise a measly $7,500. Andrew Blackwell also seems like he's planning an attack, even trotting out blueprints to the D.C. water system. However, it turns out that he's all talk.
  • Shown Their Work: The film makes a number of references to real white supremacist lingo and beliefs that sometimes go unexplained, such as "1488." It also shows the real life factionalism within white nationalist groups, such as how some Nazis disavow Christianity due to considering it a Jewish invention.
  • Straight Edge Evil: Gerry Conway is a friendly personable guy who likes hanging out with his kids and disapproves of swearing, smoking, or alcohol. He's also a white supremacist and domestic terrorist.
  • Stupid Evil: Roy doesn't consider the consequences of his actions. He's belligerent and antagonistic, openly assaulting people in full view of security cameras and even police.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: The movie highlights that white supremacists/racists are Not So Different from normal people — they can have friendships, parties, personal issues, families, and have your everyday household jobs like being a teacher or a white collar engineer... and that's what makes them scary. They're people that YOU could know.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Nate first infiltrates a Nazi skinhead gang, but also meets a variety of other white supremacist factions, including the Klan and the Christian Identity movement.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Much like the white supremacist movement in Real Life, the Nazis are shown to be bitterly divided. The skinheads, for instance, are largely chaotic punks that act undisciplined and hate Christianity. This puts them in conflict with the Christian Identity Movement that seeks a more sophisticated, but militant approach while having their own racist form of Christianity. Conway is more interested in a traditionalist approach involving an emphasis on white families and pride in white history. Wolf's rhetoric on his show is the only thing that guides them.
  • Western Terrorists: The film revolves around an FBI operation to find out if white supremacists are planning an attack. It's eventually learned some are.

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