“The Imitation Game” Review


Disclaimer: What follows are specific plot details of “The Imitation Game” . The review contains spoilers regarding the movie. Do not read this review if you have not watched the movie yet, and wish to in the future.

With brilliant acting and an astounding story, “The Imitation Game,” without question, is one of the best movies of the past year and a must-see for all moviegoers looking to be amazed and impressed. Directed by Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game” is a fantastic note to end the year on.

Based on true events, the film follows mathematician Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and his epic battle with the Nazi code, Enigma, during World War II. He is assisted by a group of scholars, mathematicians, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers including Joan Clarke, played by Keira Knightley, Hugh Alexander, played by Matthew Goode, John Cairncross, played by Allen Leech, and Peter Hilton, played by Matthew Beard. The characters work together under the order of Commander Denniston, played by Charles Dance. Despite the clashing of minds at the beginning of the mission, they work to build Christopher, Turing’s brilliant invention to crack Enigma. The film watches the group’s quest along with Turing’s rough childhood and past. While highlighting the horrors of the war, viewers sit behind the battlefield while they attempt to break Enigma.

One of the main subplots of the film focuses on Turing’s sexuality. Being gay, which is a crime at the time, Turing is faced with many people against him. But to help save the mission and keep his sexuality a secret, he marries Clarke. But one of the best things about the film is the fact that being homosexual is not what defines Turing’s character; he is a complex and well developed person with other attributes. This is not commonly highlighted in commercial movies.

The movie’s historical relevance is interesting as well. Alan Turing “was a British pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalization of the concepts of ‘algorithm’ and ‘computation’ with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence” according to Wikipedia.  This was accurately reflected in the film as the camera panned to Cumberbatch sprinting as he was thinking and creating. This was illustrated as well through his quick, clipped dialogue that highlighted his immense intelligence.

Cumberbatch delivers a performance that will cement the success of his career in this film. With only minor roles in popular American films (like The Hobbit) prior to The Imitation Game, Cumberbatch is truly unforgettable for this main character performance. He is the highlight, without a doubt. Specifically in the scene where Dance’s character, Denniston, comes to destroy Turing’s invention because it is not producing answers fast enough, Cumberbatch shines. His character radiates passion and frustration as he attempts to stop Denniston’s men from pulling the plugs on Christopher. Along with this, later in the movie when Clarke visits Turing after they have cracked the code and have long been dispatched from the mission, Turing has been charged with indecency (being a homosexual). Turing has been enduring chemical castration as a punishment instead of going to prison and Cumberbatch emulates the sadness and desperation Turing must have felt at the time so well it brought tears to my eyes.

According to movie critic Luke Buckmaster, “scenes set during Turing’s later days, when he is confronted and prosecuted by police, alone and unknown to the public, carry a punch despite being softened by borderline schmaltzy dialogue. It’s almost a shame The Imitation Game is based on (or inspired by) real events. It’s highly palatable pap, with a fuzzy heart that belies — if not in story, then certainly in tone — the terrible injustice at the heart of it”. Cumberbatch was incredibly dedicated to the character and did the man justice in this film as Turing struggles with his passion for creating an invention that can answer anything (essentially building the first computer) and his lack of social skills.

THEIGAlthough Cumberbatch is the standout, Knightley does not disappoint. Her strong and smart character was a brilliant addition and added the truth about the way women were unfairly treated and seen as not as intelligent as men. The other comrades including Goode, Leech and Beard are less important to the story but are still strong acting-wise. Goode’s character seems to represent the ideal man of the time, Leech is the smart man with a secret (he’s a spy) and Beard is the sweet, young boy who is not prepared for the harsh realities of breaking the code. All in all, the acting does not disappoint and Cumberbatch has a breakout performance that will forever shine as one of the most influential of the year.

The set and costumes seem to take a backseat when compared to the acting but they serve their purpose. The military camp Turing and the rest of the group work on is complete with guard service and adds to the war-like mood in the film. At certain points in the film, the camera deviates to images of bombed cities and war planes adding to the desperate and cataclysmic ambiance and allowing viewers to see the destruction happening at this time in history. Through this, viewers feel the pressure the code-breakers do to help save the lives being lost.

There are many important messages being brought to light in this film including the unfair treatment of homosexuals, women’s rights, the power of each individual and the difficulty of making choices and playing God. Once they have broken the code, Turing realizes that they then have to choose which attacks they can stop without the Germans knowing; they must decide who lives and who dies. The team is faced with the toughest decision of their lives and it takes a toll on all of them and since the mission was top secret, none of them got any credit for their work. The story is unbelievable and extremely important for all to see; it honors those brave men and women working behind the scenes to end the war. With the strength of both Turing and Clarke, the power to overcome social norms is also illustrated beautifully in this movie. Their characters and performances are inspirational.

It is a stunning movie that will tug at your heart and gives recognition to some of the great minds in history. Throughout the film the same message repeats, “sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine”, which sums up the movie’s message well.

Parkway West Pathfinder gives “The Imitation Game” 9.2/10.