-A really interesting Radcliffe-led indie, a fun dose of energetic debating, and Nic Cage.

Imperium is a rare straight-to-DVD release that manages to really increase the credentials of Lionsgate Premiere as studios try to have certain types of indie releases be available to older audiences on a much easier basis. For good or for bad, this trend does occasionally reward us with being able to see certain films weeks earlier than we normally would be able to, and after hearing some decent reviews, I had to check out Imperium, an under-cover cop film starring Daniel Radcliffe.

Part of me tries to pay attention to Radcliffe’s post-Potter career, because I really do think he has some serious acting chops, and he does show them off in this film. He had success in the mainstream with The Woman in Black (an underrated and fun ghost flick), but really has had success in theater (which I don’t cover) and an array of indie films including What If, Horns, Swiss Army Man, and Kill Your Darlings. Realistically, this may actually be his best post-Potter work, and he plays this role pretty close to the chest.

His job is pretty simple: infiltrate a gang of white supremacists who the FBI think are planning a terrorist plot. A few months, allegiances, and threatened danger later and Radcliffe is on the inside. What’s amazing is the way the film switches between the violent skinheads and the more sophisticated, but clearly misguided, ideologues.

Perhaps it’s the timeliness of some of the attitudes, or how good Radcliffe is in the lead role, but I definitely suggest renting Imperium if you enjoy this kind of infiltration in a film.

 

3.5 stars

Imperium (2016)

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Director: Daniel Ragussis (X)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts, Sam Trammell, and Nestor Carbonell

RT Score: 83%

 


This film I’m catching up on after I missed it in the middle of a packed summer of covering blockbusters. I saw the good reviews but wasn’t quite encapsulated enough by the premise to see straight-away, but I was wrong in not giving Indignation its fair due.

Although Philip Roth’s novels haven’t really given way to successful adaptations, the dialogue in this film really makes it worthwhile because it’s clearly intelligent screenwriting done by intelligent people. There’s a playfulness to some of the movie’s conversations that are pretty unique compared to the normal dramas that we get in the indie circuit.

The story focuses on a teenage jewish Jerseyian named Marcus (Logan Lerman), who goes to a faith-based school in Ohio to study to be a lawyer. The film takes place in the early 1950s against the backdrop of the Korean War, and Marcus is held to a strict standard of conduct despite being an atheist. There, he meets a promiscuous student (Sarah Gadon) who begins changing his outlook on life, further cementing him as a progressive thinker of his time.

All of the costume work is good, and the two main performances in Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon are both excellent. Also, Tracy Letts as a hard-headed Dean is a pretty good casting as well, a few of the scenes he has with Marcus are the best in the movie. Marcus is expected to behave in a way that is consistent with his time, and because of his more progressive values, continues to see the maligned Sarah Gadon character despite the urging of several people around him. If anything, I would watch this movie for their chemistry and the style that the dialogue is placed in. It’s very chatty, but Lerman is game for it, and gives his best performance to date as a young actor.

 

4 stars

Indignation (2016)

Genre: Drama

Director: James Schamus (X)

Starring: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracy Letts, Danny Burstein, and Pico Alexander

RT Score: 80%

 


Just look at the trailers for this. Nic Cage plays an unhealthy, white-trash contractor named Gary Faulkner who tries to take down Osama Bin Laden, spending money and time to fly overseas and come up with extremely outrageous ways to accomplish his task. Cage is full ham here. I would watch this over some of his other crazy films he tries to do. It’s just awful, and hilarious.

 

2 stars

Army of One (2016)

Genre: Comedy

Director: Larry Charles (Borat, Bruno, The Dictator)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Russell Brand, Denis O’Hare, and Rainn Wilson

RT Score: 30%

 

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