Synopsis: English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Allen Leech, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Matthew Goode, Matthew Beard, Rory Kinnear
Director: Morten Tyldum
Running Length: 114 minutes
Trailer Review: Here
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: As I said in my review of the trailer for The Imitation Game, I worry that star Benedict Cumberbatch is getting ever so slightly overexposed. From his on the spectrum performance in the BBC television series Sherlock to his sinewy performances in August: Osage County, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and 12 Years a Slave all the way to his sinister voice work in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies the actor seems to be everywhere nowadays.
With the arrival of The Imitation Game, we should all brace ourselves for more Cumberbatch in the years to come because it’s his performance here that should really put him on the map, not to mention guarantee his first trip to the Academy Awards. Though the character could be a distant cousin to his Sherlock, Cumberbatch’s performance as mathematician turned code-breaker Alan Turing is a fully realized flesh and blood wonder, one not afraid to take aloof to the next level yet still managing to keep an audience engaged.
I’m not going to get into the specifics of the film because it’s so multi-layered that you’re better served letting the well-scripted film do the telling for you. Adapted from the Andrew Hodges novel by young screenwriter Graham Moore, The Imitation Game benefits from Moore’s youth in its execution. While the material is never dumbed down, it’s related to us through dialogue from someone that clearly has an ear for how to convey complex code talk and wartime business to the masses.
Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (who helmed the bloody good Headhunters) keeps everything moving at a nice clip from the get-go. We meet a post-war Turing being investigated by the police who look back into his life for clues to a current crime. Through these passages we learn of Turings involvement with cracking the Enigma code during WWII along with a group of carefully selected scholars (including Stoker’s Matthew Goode and Downton Abbey’s Allen Leech). From this group a love interest appears (Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina) and instead of feeling shoehorned in, Moore creates a dynamic relationship between Turing and this woman…a relationship that opens up another set of secrets Turing is trying to hide.
Straddling the past and present and multiple covert secrets (both kept and uncovered) is no easy game but all involved score high points for its unqualified success. While maybe not an edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s absolutely one that will command you to lean forward and look harder at what’s underneath it all. An assured film, to be sure.