The Movie Waffler New Release Review [VOD] - IMPERIAL BLUE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [VOD] - IMPERIAL BLUE

imperial blue review
A drug dealer travels to Uganda in search of a psychedelic drug that grants its users insightful powers.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Dan Moss

Starring: Nicolas Fagerberg, Rehema Nanfuka, Esteri Tebandeke, Andrew Benon Kibuuka, Paul Dewdney

imperial blue poster

What a curious product Imperial Blue is. Ostensibly a thriller, the promised rush of the opening sequences turns out to have been cut with the substandard materials of would-be travelogue filler and the stringent dust of domestic drama, compromising the purity of this particular genre merchandise. We open in the slums of Mumbai, in one of those prefab structures which colonise the city like massive skeletons. Within such a hollow edifice, our man Hugo (Hugo!), who is some sort of drug dealer, has arranged to pick up a couple of bricks of hash from his connection. I say some sort of drug dealer because it is difficult to get the measure of this guy. Of all the places available to him, he decides to do a transfer worth in excess of a thousand pounds within this cinematically wide-open space which has no visible means of evading feds/rival gangs. He also exactly resembles those burn outs you see in festivals: tie dyed clothes, beardy, wall eyed. Not being funny, but if anyone looks as if they are holding it is Hugo. He is perhaps the worst person in the world you would trust this sort of risky business to.

imperial blue review

Of course, the deal duly goes south. Meaning that Hugo must then go cap in hand to his boss and co (a gang who dress like extras from the Matrix sequels - if , say, you were yourself chemically relaxed when watching this then you may get a fair bit out of the inadvertent absurdity of it all). Thing is, though, before the coppers bust in, the Mumbai dealer gave Hugo this mad blue powder: a psychedelic which allows the user to experience vague glimpses of the future. And so, instead of simply breaking his useless co-worker’s ankles, Hugo’s boss instead allows himself to be persuaded that in lieu of paying back what he lost, Hugo will travel to Africa to source this revolutionary trip wholesale. But he can’t even be trusted with a pickup! I dunno, perhaps writers/director David Cecil and Dan Moss were on drugs when they put this crazy joint together.

Off to Uganda Hugo goes. I had no idea that the lifestyle of a low-level drug dealer was so jetsetting! Problem with Hugo is that he wants his drugs and to take them too; not long in town he gets all blooty and ends up getting jacked by a sex worker. What a ‘bombaclart’, as an indigenous character remarks, giving local flavour.

imperial blue review

The idea of a drug that can tell the future is intriguing, as is the concept of chemicals which act like software to the biological hardware of the body; enhancing, but at the same time detracting, from our natural evolution towards our human potential (like in that Bradley Cooper film Limitless, remember that?!). In terms of narrative, the idea of a drug which allows a flash forward is a storytelling gift, too, because what else are psychedelics if not a way to discern our own plotlines and our place within them?

Imperial Blue just says no to these potentially intriguing avenues though, and, when Hugo follows the sex worker back to her village where the blue snout is grown he gets involved with some sort of ongoing conflict involving land ownership and a corrupt church. Hugo sometimes loudly pontificates about the ineffectuality of the church (as is authentically the wont of drug burn outs) but spends most of his stay trying to knock off either the sex worker or her saintly sister, or otherwise down the k-hole with the villagers grimly tolerating him with all the practiced patience of a coffee shop worker in Amsterdam tending to an overenthusiastic stag party member.

imperial blue review

Imperial Blue, like its confused protagonist, has no real sense of direction. You won’t need a toot of the Bulu to envision that in its final act, the film not so much wanders towards an ambiguous resolution but gives up and just collapses into one.

Imperial Blue is on UK VOD/Digital now.

2021 movie reviews