The Imitation Game…a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

December 16, 2014 by Roz Tarszisz
Read on for article

In an ideal world you would come fresh to this knowing little about the British code breakers of World War II as it is a fascinating piece of history.

As World War II cranked up, the British government gathered a group of smart young men (more on that later) at Bletchley Park, outside London, in an attempt to break the codes of the impregnable Enigma machine held by the Germans.. Dispatches could be intercepted but decoding them proved impossible.

Today these guys would be regarded as nerds and shut in a room with computers. Back then the task was insurmountable as there were many millions of possible permutations and the team worked manually.

We have seen some of this story before in 2001 when director Michael Apted adapted Enigma from the novel by Robert Harris.

The Imitation Game adapts the true story of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a professor of mathematics who is credited with building the world’s first computer. The story also lays out how he was prosecuted for homosexuality after the war.

Turing realised that he had to build a machine to take on a machine. He gets the funding but it wasn’t that simple. A random remark eventually gives him the key that allows him to decode the undecodable.

Dealing with extremely vital military communication, the codebreakers worked under extreme stress. When Turing meets Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) he immediately recognises her capabilities and takes her on the team, even though she had to pretend to work in the typing pool.

Cumberbatch, with his somewhat lugubrious features, is wonderful as a brilliant, awkward man who might today be labelled autistic. Alex Lawther, who plays him as a boy, is also very good. Mark Strong impresses as a Whitehall mandarin who believes in Turing and Charles Dance plays his sceptical commander. The acting and settings are excellent.

There is a bit of dull patch in the middle but I put that down to the tedious nature of decoding. Vital as it was, it certainly was not glamorous.

3.5/5 2014   114mins

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Charles Dance

Directed by Morten Tyldum

Screenplay by Graham Moore

Adapted from Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges

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