Review: The Imitation Game


The Imitation Game is the biopic of Alan Turing, the man who invented the Ultra machine that eventually led to the British decrypting the Nazi codes made by their Enigma machine. He was also the Father of the of modern computers.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Turing who was, it’s fair to say, difficult to get on with being slightly autistic as well as self-absorbed and hiding a repressed secret. Cumberbatch just keeps getting better with every film he makes and it’ll be an outstanding performance from anyone else that prevents him walking away with the Best Actor Oscar at this year’s ceremonies.

The story of Turing’s life is full of ups and downs; he is bullied at school, manages to get a job in the secret service just out of university, is accused of being a soviet spy and finally managing to break the German code using his machine. This breakthrough means that the allies finally manage to turn the tide in the war against the Nazis. You could say that he single-handedly won the Second World War.

The saddest part of his story is the fact that he had to hide his homosexuality as, up until 1967, it was illegal to be gay in the UK. What the film does so well though, is make you forget about this part of the narrative. It focuses on Turing’s struggle with the Royal Navy and MI5 who are accusing him of being a spy and always on the verge of pulling the plug on his passion project.

Even though I knew how Alan Turing’s story ends, director, Morten Tyldum managed to pull the wool over my eyes, so when the horrible truth is revealed in the last 10-15 minutes it is a horrible gut punch. For those of you who don’t know the dilemma faced by Turing years after his bravery, I won’t spoil it for you, needless to say it is barbaric and very sad that these things went on within living memory. And to war heroes – though the secrecy of his work meant this was never acknowledged until 2013.

It’s difficult to overlook the performances of the other actors in this film as Cumberbatch is on top form. However, special mentions have to go to the young actor, Alex Lawther, who plays the young Alan Turing who nails Cumberbatche’s accent, they even mimic the way each other walk and stoop. Hopefully he is more than a one-trick pony. Charles Dance plays the Royal Navy Commander infuriated with Turing’s personality, lack of results and refusal to be a team player who gives a counter-point to Mark Strong’s MI5 agent who has a respect for Turing, even if he does seem to know too much. Also, the is a film in which Keira Knightley actually acts, emotes and has more than one facial expression! It’s like Benedict Cumberbatch’s skill has rubbed off on her.

This is a must see movie, and will – surely – win Oscars. It is still playing, so go and see it.


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