Director: Morten Tyldum
Writers: Andrew Hodges (book), Graham Moore (screenplay)
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Allen Leech
Running Time: 114 mins.
The Imitation Game is an amazing story masterfully told with a stunning performance by Benedict Cumberbatch in an emotionally complex role while supported by a terrific well rounded cast.
Based on the real life story of the legendary genius mathematician-cryptanalyst Alan Turing, The Imitation Game portrays the race against time by him and his team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret government facility at Bletchley Park during World War II.
The Germans were winning the war as a result of their seemingly unbreakable Enigma code which none of the allies had been able to fathom. Turing offers his services to Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) who heads up the secret research at Bletchley and despite Denniston’s reticence about his qualifications and personality, Turing joins a team assembled to work feverishly to solve the wild’s biggest puzzle.
They are all sworn to secrecy and put in a room where Turing manages to get on everyone’s nerves. He’s highly intelligent, yet dismissive and arrogant; the niceties and necessity of human consideration and communication completely foreign to him. But it’s here that the theme of the film, eloquently stated and repeated by two characters, becomes abundantly clear: “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”
Turing thinks outside the box; the Enigma’s 159-million code combinations that are changed daily cannot be broken by mere men. His goal is to build a master computer to figure it out. How he goes about doing that, when thwarted by an untrusting commander and his dubious teammates is the brilliance of the story. And through flashbacks to his troubled childhood we see how his personality developed.
It has been estimated that Alan Turing’s efforts resulted in the war ending some two years earlier than it would have thus saving 14 million lives. And he was rewarded by being prosecuted and chemically castrated for “gross indecency” years later due to his being a homosexual which was a crime in Britain.
It is heartbreaking to watch Cumberbatch’s performance as the tormented Turing whose accomplishments were deliberately hidden from the world after the war but whose human foibles were outed in such a vile manner as they were in 1952.
Lotta says The Imitation Game is filled with strong performances and Cumberbatch’s interaction with Keira Knightley’s character, math whiz Joan Clarke who joins the code-breaking team, is quite lovely to watch. It’s a thrilling film revealing the complexities of character and the burdens some “… who do the things that no one can imagine.” must bear.