The Imitation Game (2014)

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Do you know why people like violence? It is because it feels good,” said Alan Turing.

The Imitation Game is a prestige biopic of a less-known person who made significant changes into the world we live now, Alan Turing. The question is: Who is Alan Turing?

In brief, he’s a scientist, specifically, a mathematician—whose expertise was cryptography—who broke Enigma, German code-making system during World War II, and helped the Allied Force to win over Nazi. Further, Turing is the godfather of computer and artificial intelligence; yet, nobody knows him for real before The Imitation Game (although, his influence manifested in Spike Jonze’s Her). Ironically, history just sacked him offhanded as he was incriminated and sentenced for being a homosexual despite of what he’s done.

This glorified biopic attempts to reveal the story of Alan Turing (portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch) in three significant periods of his life: his childhood to expose his homosexual background; his decoding of Enigma; and the dusk of his life, where the irony happened. Those three moments are interconnected in a non-linear narrative, in which flash back and fast forward often appear. Yet, the focus of the story-telling itself is Turing’s struggle in breaking Enigma with his compatriots led by Hugh (Matthew Goode) and Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley).

This movie tries to convince the audience that Alan Turing is no God “cause God didn’t win the war”; he’s depicted as a fragile, zero-to-hero-to-zero geek who managed to partake in a crucial moment in history. For whatever he is, Turing is made alive and vivid by vibrant performance from Benedict Cumberbatch, who happened to portray another genius in Sherlock. Although, Turing is exactly a geek-counterpart of Sherlock in different universe; Cumberbatch makes it feasible to live as Turing, emanates his confidence and fragility, and embraces it with his own persona. Although, Knightley and Goode manage to show one of their finest roles, the star who illuminates this biopic is nobody but Cumberbatch.

Although this biopic beautifully captures the tense and horror of World War II from a different perspective as well as captures Turing’s biggest struggle that had been forgotten for years, it fails to capture the irony that leads to the lowest point in Turing’s life. Had director Morten Tyldum focused more on government’s humiliation to Alan Turing by sentencing him for being a homosexual, The Imitation Game might capture a bigger moment than just a glorified victory—the irony that overshadowed what Alan Turing had done to his country.

Although it loses balance in some moments, The Imitation Game still makes a good movie. It’s still a blatant, carefully-crafted biopic fueled mostly by Cumberbatch’s into-character performance and helps from chemistry towards Goode and Knightley. For whatever flaws it has, this biopic is, at least, able to reveal the veil over the great history of Alan Turing although it ends up as an irony.

VERDICT: The Imitation Game captures a beautiful subject as a glorified biopic; it just gets distracted in portraying the irony over Alan Turing. And yet, it’s still a blatant, carefully-crafted biopic fueled mostly by Cumberbatch’s vibrant performance.

The Imitation Game (2014)

Biography, Drama Directed by: Morten Tyldum Written by: Graham Moore based on a book by Andrew Hodges Starred by: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech, Charles Dance, Rory Kinnear Running Time: 114 mins Rated PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking

IMDb | Official Site

2 responses

  1. Fantastic review Paskalis! I’d agree that the irony isn’t really captured well here, and as I mentioned in my latest post to your comment, the film is somewhat conventional, not as edgy as I’d have liked it. I like how you describe Turing… zero-to-hero-to-zero geek, I never saw it that way but I suppose you’re right. In any case, Cumberbatch was good indeed but I was also impressed by Matthew Goode & Mark Strong here.

    1. Thanks, Ruth. Well, yes he’s a real geek, aint he? That’s a point. Anyway, I loved Matthew Goode in this movie better than his performance in Stoker, which for me is a bit overrated.

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