Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Imitation Game - Movie Review

The Imitation Game is a movie directed by Morten Tyldum and is based on Alan Turing: The Enigma, a novel written by Andrew Hodges. This historical drama features the acting talents of Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley as well as Mark Strong, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leach, Matthew Beard, and Charles Dance.

Over the course of Germany's efforts to win the second world war, they utilized an encryption device called Enigma to keep all of their communications hidden from their foes. To combat this advantage, the British government employed a team of highly intelligent code breakers to figure out how Enigma works including a young prodigy named Alan Turing (Cumberbatch). As smart as he was when it came to mathematics and logic, he was just as inept at the type of social conventions and courtesies needed to function with others in both professional and social circles which made for a very difficult and complicated work environment for both him and the rest of the code breaking team. With time running out and the war's outcome hanging in the balance, Turing would find solving this most intricate of puzzles to be an easier task than coming to terms with who he is as a person and getting everyone else to believe in him and his seemingly outrageous ideas.

Historical dramas, especially ones involving war, are often emotionally powerful pieces of cinema and The Imitation Game is no exception. Turing's story is absolutely one worth being told as it sheds light on so many cultural touchstones, some of which ware just as relevant today as they were back then. Norwegian director Morten Tyldum does a great job in keeping the story tightly focused on Turing's personal journey and delicately weaving other characters in and out of the narrative. With so much going on and so many players involved, this film could have easily been a bit of a mess or become too melodramatic for its own good. Tyldum is also given an assist by a couple really outstanding acting performances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.

Over the last few years, Mr. Cumberbatch has reached a level of worldwide acclaim that firmly places him among the elite actors working today. To me, his versatility is what has been most impressive as he seems just as comfortable in smaller, dramatic films including August: Osage County and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as he is in bigger, more iconic roles like playing Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness or being the voice of Smaug the Dragon in Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies. As good as he has been in those roles, I feel like playing Alan Turing has been by far his best effort that I have seen and may only be rivaled by his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the ongoing BBC TV series. He does an amazing job of presenting an emotionally challenged character who just happens to also be the smartest person in the room at any given time. Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, and Mark Strong also turn in noteworthy performances and, honestly, the entire cast is just really great as an ensemble.

The Imitation Game is a really good movie which is made even better by a truly memorable performance from Cumberbatch and is absolutely worth checking out. The story, which I honestly thought was going to be a bit dry, turned out to be very entertaining and contains just enough humor sprinkled in to provide a counter balance to the dramatic themes being presented. This is a movie that anyone could, and should see, both as a quality piece of film making and as an important look into a very pivotal time of the world's history.


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