“Are you paying attention?” Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) says glaring down in a cold, gloomy police station interrogation room “You think you are in control of what will happen, you are mistaken. Because I know things you do not know.” he tells the audience—or rather the officer who brought him in for questioning. Turing continues to elaborate on the subject of judgement before starting to reveal his past to the audience and his captor.
But before we start our Turing travels, oh so, decidedly, and very meticulously he stops himself before continuing on about what he truly did in Bletchley Park, and challenges us all—with a cold, dead stare—to without judgement and with utmost patience to again “pay attention.” before the screen cuts to black and Turing’s story unravels.
The Imitation Game decodes the man behind the computer or rather the computer within the man. The myth, the enigma, the legend. Alan Turing. A brilliant young man who attended Cambridge, published papers based on his theory of humanizing machines by making them think, and aided in numerous victories against a “nasty little chap” (as so dubbed by Charles Dance in the film) named Hitler all before he was 35 years old.
Turing enlists with a team of Britain’s top of the line code breakers to work at ‘The Government Code and Cipher School’ located in Bletchley Park . The task at hand; to break 20 million years worth of code in a single day.
Obviously frustrated from working on cracking the German code (and repeatedly failing) which had been deemed unbreakable by teams of analyzers from different countries, the team had just about given up on trying. And Alan Turing was no help to their cause as he dogmatically, and almost mechanically shut down all basic niceties to his fellow colleagues by a few quick jabs and insulting Sherlockian remarks to the point where he was isolated and completely alone in his fight to defeat the German code. It isn’t until a Ms. Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) comes to Bletchley and helps Turing warm his calculating heart that the true teamwork and progress begin. But the road ahead is treacherous and unforgiving.
Imitation Game is a beautifully orchestrated puzzle that pieces together the life and ultimate tragedy of the unsung mathematics and encryption breaker, Alan Turing.
Norwegian director, Morten Tyldum, in his first English language film to-date conducts a cast of characters in a complex world of codes, lies, unspoken truths and acceptance. But it is truly the script of new screenwriter, Graham Moore, who breathes life into the people that lived not so long ago in our past and the calculating genius who was instrumental to our future.
The acting which is another feat in itself is phenomenal. As it has been said and duly noted by fans, non-fans, and critics alike that this is Benedict Cumberbatch’s finest acting role to date. Sure, he is used to playing finely tuned geniuses with a clandestine heart of gold (aside from Khan, of course, that dude was just pure evil). And yes, we did get to see perhaps the closest that Cumberbatch will ever come to a “romantic comedy” in August Osage County. But those performances pale in comparison to the brilliant, conflicted, dutiful and flummoxed man that is/was Alan Turing. Benedict Cumberbatch’s transformation into Alan Turing is an enigma in it’s own right as he conveys layer after layer of a man who was different, isolated and completely outlandish but yet was able to remain loyal to a country that would inevitably betray him.
The ensemble cast of Matthew Goode, Allan Leech, Matthew Beard, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, James Northcote and of course the immaculate Keira Knightley combined with good direction, and excellent script writing make this film bigger than the silver screen. It not only entertains, there are plenty of laughs and little sarcastic gems in the film that keep the film from being too overwhelming melodramatic but raises much needed awareness about exactly how in the face of adversity and constant trial and error that we can survive and make a difference on a small and grand scale.
The Imitation Game is a smart movie that begs that question that Turing had so curiously posed to us at the start of the movie about being a man, about being a more than just a man, about being a human faced with a small task to help many and how we all fit in the pages of history.
“You get to judge,” Turing says solemnly looking down at the table in front of him and then back up towards the camera “what am I? Am I a machine? Am I a person? Am I a criminal?”
Judge for yourself.
Imitation Game infiltrates in wide release; November 14th (UK) ‡ November 21st (US)
Approx running time: 113 mins
Distributed by: Studio Canal (UK & France)‡ The Weinstein Company (US)
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Written by: Graham Moore
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Matthew Goode, and Alan Leech
Based on: “Alan Turing: The Enigma” by Andrew Hodges