Film Review: “The Imitation Game” (2014)

the_imitation_game_a_pIt’s a little unusual to see a character so totally commandeer a film as Benedict Cumberbatch does in “The Imitation Game” (2014). He’s such a commanding presence the other characters seem to circulate around him, all simply adding perspective.

Decidedly odd Alan Turing was directly involved in solving the WW II problem of “Enigma”, the German cryptographic machine said to be impenetrable. 159 million million possible entries to decode a message. Turing opined that humans could never break it. It would take 12 million years for a human working 24/7 entering possible code interpretations. Turing saw that only a machine that could sort out probability much faster than the human brain was the only answer, and he was right.

Decidedly odd Alan Turing was directly involved in solving the WW II problem of “Enigma”, the German cryptographic machine said to be impenetrable. 159 million million possible entries to decode a message. Turing opined that humans could never break it. It would take 12 million years for a human working 24/7 entering possible code interpretations. Turing saw that only a machine that could sort out probability much faster than the human brain was the only answer, and he was right.

Of course, the film is not exactly true to the subject as there were many more events that combined to eventually crack the code, and some of the relationships within the Bletchley group are incorrect, poetic license for the purpose of highlighting Turing. Cumberbatch makes a very powerful stab at interpreting the workings genius but in the end the viewer only sees it as eccentricity.

However, it can rightfully be argued that movies are made for the purpose of highlighting performance talent, not scientific accuracy, so some of this can be forgiven to see the lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch do a masterful job of holding that audience’s attention. Even the young actor, Alex Lawther, that plays Turing in flashbacks does a really masterful job. Two other actors that stand out are Charles Dance who plays Turing’s boss and Mark Strong who plays MI 6 boss Stewart Menzies.

Much like “Birdman” (2014) this is a film that is simply built around a single actor who is turned loose to do pretty much what he wants. If you’re willing to forgive much of the rest of the film’s inadequacies, Cumberbatch does it extremely well. The production and cinematography are all excellent. Details of Turing’s personal life are preachy and extraneous.

The film itself suffers from some muddling and endless, tedious waiting as to whether the infernal machine will actually work, and when it does, how to deal with the aftermath.

Best quote: “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine”.

I give it a solid 3 of 5 Eggheads. Good isolated performance surrounded by props.

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