Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Imitation Game

Year: 2014
Director: Morten Tyldum
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear

Plot: The true story of Alan Turing, a British mathematician who successfully cracked the unbreakable Enigma code used by the Nazis during World War II.

Review: Hot on the heels of Stephen Hawking biography The Theory Of Everything comes The Imitation Game, based on the true story of the man who broke the Nazi's Enigma code that led to the Allies' victory in WWII, Alan Turing. Unlike the former, which focuses on Hawking and his wife Jane in equal measure, this film centres mostly on Turing.

Director Morten Tyldum presents his movie adapted from Andrew Hodges' book about the man, which flips back and forth from his time spent with MI6 trying to build a machine that can crack the Enigma code, to 1951 where he's being investigated by the police on suspicion of indecent behavior, with occasional flashbacks to his younger school days where his homosexual tendencies first surfaced. Tyldum and Graham Moore's adapted screenplay gives an even account of Turing's private and professional life, thus giving viewers a fair and detailed look into the man's genius and awkwardness around people.

The best parts of the film, in my opinion, is his work in building what is basically the world's first computer, in order to crack the ever changing Enigma code. Turing's struggles with his colleagues, superiors as well as the frustration of failure after failure before finally hitting paydirt, is excellently shown here.

However, the film needs a great actor to portray Turing, and Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect in the role. Cumberbatch plays Turing as a difficult man to understand, who values his work above anything else, and seems unable to socially mingle with others, which puts him at odds with his teammates and superiors. But his genius is undeniable, and even as he proves himself to everyone, he still struggles to hide his dark secret from them. Cumberbatch is excellent here, and truly deserves his Oscar nomination. Keira Knightley puts in a strong performance as Joan Clarke, Turing's colleague and one of the very few people who connect with him. Other supporting cast members such as Matthew Goode, Charles Dance and the ever reliable Mark Strong also turn in great work here, but it is Cumberbatch's film, without a doubt.

The only drawback to this film is the scenes taking place in 1951, where police detective Nock (played by Rory Kinnear) is investigating Turing, suspecting him of espionage. I felt that this part of the story wasn't really necessary, even though it is executed mostly well. It's just that Turing's work during the war was far more fascinating and the film slows down a bit whenever it goes away from it.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Imitation Game as both a historical film and an interesting biography of a man finally being recognized for his triumphs after being unjustly punished due to his sexual orientation. Recommended. (9/10)

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