Movie Review: ‘The Imitation Game’
Director: Morten Tyldum
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance, Mark Strong
Plot: During the Second World War the Allied Forces could not crack the German Enigma, an encryption device that allowed communication between their forces and lead to many successful ambush attacks. Among the team of British codebreakers is Alan Turing a mathematical genius with a revolutionary idea.
Review: It seems that it’s been long enough since The Fifth Estate that we can accept Benedict Cumberbatch in a biopic about a revolutionary figure in the world of information technology. This is a very different kettle of fish though, and fortunately a more enjoyable flick. Now I’m going to take a bit of a hit to my nerd cred, but I wasn’t wholly familiar with Alan Turing and his impact on the world prior to this film. I had heard of his machine but I was woefully uninformed before this movie. Given the current social context this is the perfect time for this movie to come out as it provides not only a timely history lesson in IT but the state of equality.
Turing was responsible for creating one of the earliest computer systems in the world. Given the importance and reliance of modern society on computers this is a part of history is worth knowing and in time will likely become a bigger part of school curriculum. The Enigma machine was complex enough that it was a physical impossibility for the team of codebreakers, leading to Turing pioneering his machine and opening up the world to computational sciences and concepts of artificial intelligence. Turing was also a homosexual and after the war was put on trail for ‘indecent acts’, where he was forced onto a medical treatment that wrecked havoc on his life. Sadly the attitude towards orientation has not advanced at the same pace as computer technology.
The Imitation Game got off to the right start casting Benedict Cumberbatch. He sells the difficult life of Turing well, bringing out his social misgivings and unusual world outlook without once making things hammy. Keira Knightly is also on good form as Joan Clarke, a women with whom Turing shared a close relationship. For the most part the cast are all very good with only some of the support cast not up to their game.
It takes a while for the human element to really take hold, with some of the narrative elements being out of place. We skip between Turing’s time during to WWII, his background in boarding school and the time surrounding his arrest and trail. This final part of the story receives the least amount of screen time and doesn’t fit neatly into the flow of the story. Every time we skip forward in time we wind up yearning for the main story to kick back in. The school sections work better with actor Alex Lawther nailing a young Cumberbatch.
When we do connect with the characters we get heavily involved in their stories, and you’ll be hard pressed not to feel a lift when they successfully crack the Enigma (is it still a spoiler if we know the war was won by the Allies?). You’ll come out of The Imitation Game feeling better informed and satisfied with the experience. Solid viewing.
Score: EIGHT out of TEN