The Imitation Game Movie Review

“Pay close attention…”  These are the early words from Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) a British mathematician and logician who cracked the enigma code during World War II.

THE IMITATION GAME shines a light on the unsung heroes of brilliant minds who changed the course of WWII.  Alan Turing is a peculiar man, arrogant and abrupt.  With little to no social tact, Alan treats people as objects, discarding anyone who can’t contribute to the inner workings of his mind, which is nearly everyone.  Hired to solve the German enigma code, Alan must work with others to achieve his goal of beating the ultimate puzzle.  The enigma is a coding system the Germans used daily to communicate war strikes.  The key is changed daily, giving the team 24-hour windows to beat the code.  Alan comes up with a plan to build a machine to beat the machine and thus the makings of the first computer.

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

Set in three different time periods, THE IMITATION GAME flashes between Alan as a young school boy, as an adult working on the enigma code, and years later being questioned about his secret job after being arrested for indecent exposure.  His secrecy goes beyond his efforts that not only changed the outcome of the war but how we live as a human race.  The tragic moment comes when we learn how this great human mind was treated in the aftermath.

“Pay close attention…” These words set the stage for something big, mysterious, and intriguing that the audience may have to unravel.  While it is true the topic at hand is big and intriguing with all the ingredients of a greater tale, the delivery is underwhelming. These words are given gravitas from the beginning yet have minor implications to the film as most of the mystery is out in the open for the audience.

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

That’s not to say the film is bad.  On the contrary, THE IMITATION GAME is a very decent film.  For the most part, I believe the film will be a safe bet that many audiences should thoroughly enjoy. The score, costuming, and acting are superb, led by the continually impressive Benedict Cumberbatch (STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) with some beautiful supporting work from Keira Knightly (ANNA KARENINA) and Matthew Goode (STOKER).  The setting and story lend itself to a few exciting moments, but as a thriller, the film lacks suspense and is a little too tame to be a memorable addition to the genre.

The strength of the film can be found in a specific inspirational line, “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”  THE IMITATION GAME would have benefited from a stronger structure built around this foundation.  The frustration lies with the potential of being a much better film, wasting some of its grander themes and fascinating material. While Cumberbatch reveals depth of a man hiding personal secrets beyond that of worldly importance, the film fails to explore both the troubled character or the heavy situation in a deeper more fulfilling manner.

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

THE IMITATION GAME is a sad story that doesn’t come to fruition until the final words on screen at the end of the film. The idea of a man who created something so progressive that it changed the way mankind lives, but was ultimately taken down by society’s regressive way of thinking is an interesting theme with great possibilities. Unfortunately, THE IMITATION GAME never delivers the goods as the deeper film, bypassing the emotion for the audience to connect to the situation.   Frankly, it’s a moderately enjoyable movie with some great performances about a handful of guys whining about how difficult it is to crack a code while another guy obsesses over a large machine.  I still like it bet better than 2002’s Best Picture winner A BEAUTIFUL MIND.


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