Movies · TV

Daniel Radcliffe Infiltrates a Neo-Nazi Gang in the Timely Trailer for Imperium

By  · Published on July 5th, 2016

Hate groups are all the rage in movies and TV these days.

Have you heard of the new movie about neo-Nazi skinheads starring a former child actor? No, not the Anton Yelchin-led Green Room, which already came out and is a contender for one of the best films of the year. There’s another, releasing next month, starring Daniel Radcliffe as an FBI agent who goes undercover as a member of a white supremacist terrorist group. Titled Imperium, this feature debut of director Daniel Ragussis seems like another frightening reflection of a growing trend of hate in America. Watch the new trailer for the film here:

Imperium is actually inspired by a true story that took place in the 1990s. Radcliffe plays a character based on Michael German, a former federal agent specializing in counterterrorism. He’s since left the FBI and has publicly warned about groups like the one depicted in the movie as being a major threat within the United States. If you want further and more current evidence, even beyond what’s constantly in the media this year regarding racists’ support for presidential hopeful Donald Trump, you should check out the recent documentary Welcome to Leith, which premiered on PBS in April and is now streaming free on their site through July.

Welcome to Leith Full Film | Videos | Independent Lens | PBS

The focus of Welcome to Leith is on a specific white supremacist named Craig Cobb, who in 2012 tried to take over a small town in North Dakota for his cause of racial dominance (since the making of the doc he’s also tried to start another white supremacy town in the same state, which he’d planned to name after Trump, and a few in Nebraska). But the film also showcases the research and activism of the Southern Poverty Law Center and addresses their findings on a general rise in hate groups in this country since 9/11 and in part because of the financial crisis and subsequent recession.

According to the SPLC website, while general hate groups are on a concerning incline, neo-Nazi, white nationalist, and racist skinhead groups have in fact been decreasing in numbers in the US in the last few years. The Ku Klux Klan is up, however, as are black separatist and anti-LGBT and anti-immigrant groups. So, movies like Green Room and Imperium plus the neo-Nazi mercenaries in The Purge: Election Year and the white power prison gang on the new season of Orange is the New Black may not be exactly representative of the real-life trends, but as a potentially in-vogue thing for entertainment right now, it’s certainly relevant.

Orange Is The New Black’s Mixed Messages

Maybe we can’t go so far as to call a few dramatic thrillers, a doc, and a TV season the makings of a trend itself. It’s not as if these are the first works spotlighting such groups. Just in the last few years there’s been the white supremacist gangs on the series Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy and the lower-profile indie films Supremacy and Pawn Shop Chronicles. And hate groups and their leaders are just always common to movies and TV as primary or secondary villains. But there’s still sadly a sense that racism is in right now more than ever, and when our pop culture can be tied to such zeitgeist, it’s impossible to ignore the significance.

Imperium debuts in limited release and on VOD on August 19th. Green Room hits DVD and Blu-ray on July 12th. The Purge: Election Year is now in theaters. And Orange Is the New Black’s new season is streaming on Netflix.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.