UK Release Date: 14th November 2014
Runtime: 112 minutes
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer: Graham Moore
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear
Synopsis: The story of a genius outsider and the team that cracked a seemingly unbreakable Nazi code in World War Two.
Connected to just about every major role in Hollywood, Benedict Cumberbatch is very much the man of the moment. This year, he stakes his claim to a spot in the awards season race with his electrifying performance as British WW2 mathematician Alan Turing in terrific drama The Imitation Game.
Turing (Cumberbatch) is recruited by Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) to join a unit, headed up by Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), which aims to crack the ‘Enigma Code’ used by the Nazis to encrypt their communications. Soon promoted to running the unit at Bletchley Park, Turing recruits bright spark Joan (Keira Knightley) to join the team.
Alan Turing was no ordinary war hero. He was a hugely complex man and therefore any big screen portrayal would need to reflect that complexity. In Benedict Cumberbatch, the filmmakers have found a man who can bring the jittery, icy genius of Turing to life in a performance that deserves to provide the Sherlock star with a sackful of glittering statuettes.
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Cumberbatch’s work as Turing is a masterpiece of nuance. Every bit as at home with bizarre visual tics as he is with barbed dialogue, the Brit actor brings enormous gravitas to the role. His Turing takes the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions throughout The Imitation Game, from laughter all the way to poignant sadness at the film’s climax.
Like Oscar-winning thriller Argo, the genius of The Imitation Game is in how director Morten Tyldum makes mundane events genuinely tense and gripping. The scenes in which Turing and his team finally work out the key to the Enigma Code are pulse-pounding, even though they’re nothing more than some people talking as the dials of a machine rotate.
This is down to the excellent work of Cumberbatch and the rest of the cast. Keira Knightley, continuing to pick challenging roles, transcends the posh girl stereotype as a delightfully conflicted Joan and Matthew Goode oozes suave charisma as devastatingly intelligent ladies man Hugh Alexander. Praise must also go to Charles Dance, channelling Tywin Lannister, and Mark Strong who achieves a great deal with minimal screentime as an ambiguous, untrustworthy MI6 operative.
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The Imitation Game benefits greatly from its command of time. It traces Turing’s early days, falling in love with another of the boys at school, his time at Bletchley Park and his later arrest for indecency and castration by the courts.
These three different time periods are seamlessly meshed together to form a coherent journey through a life that left an enormous impact. Even when the film threatens to lose momentum in the midst of its third act, it pulls the audience back into its world to bring the film to a deeply poignant end.
Alan Turing was granted a Royal Pardon for his “crimes” in 2013 and The Imitation Game feels like a fitting and impressive tribute to one of Britain’s great unsung heroes of war.
Pop or Poop?
Deserving of a place on the shortlist at the Academy Awards, it’s Benedict Cumberbatch’s multi-layered performance that makes The Imitation Game such an impressive work of cinema. Aided by a great supporting cast, Cumberbatch continues to shine.
It casts light on a period of history that is too little known and proves an excellent tribute to a heroic, important man whose crucial wartime achievements are only now beginning to be appreciated by the masses.
Bring on Oscars 2015 because the British are coming again.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.