Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear
Written by: Graham Moore and (based on the book “Alan Turing: The Enigma”) Andrew Hodges
Running Time: 113 mins
Release date: 14th November 2014
Many people will be unfamiliar with the name Alan Turing. Hopefully after The Imitation Game that will all change because without Alan Turing, we probably wouldn’t have won the Second World War. With this film, his story is finally told and along with it comes a performance that, quite frankly, knocks everything else to one side and demands awards galore.
1939 and the British have been picking up messages from the Germans that no one has been able to unscramble. Commander Denniston has been ordered to bring together some of the best minds in the country to try to crack the Engima Code. One of these men is Alan Turing, a brilliant mathematician and logician, who lacks any social graces and yet while his fellow experts are trying but failing to solve the messages, Turing comes up with an idea: to create a computer that can physically take the information given and crack the code. No one believes him, trusts him or, indeed, cares for his ideas and yet among the negativity, he prevails regardless.
Chosen as the opening gala for this year’s London Film Festival, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect film. A story of a British genius that no one knew, who was responsible for the end of the war and yet who was treated with such disdain and disrespect, that it was only recently he was vilified for a ridiculous crime that ultimately led to his untimely death. Yet this masterful film hopefully will put the story straight and make us truly appreciate what this awkward little man did for the country and, in fact, the world.
Director Morten Tyldum has taken this tale and delivered not only a fascinating and gripping thriller but a fully rounded piece of cinematic entertainment. Hard to believe that this film could cover every base going, from being exciting and nail-biting in one instant, to breaking your heart the next and making you laugh out loud within a pulse beat. Yet having the good sense to treat its subject matter with the respect that he so duly deserves.
We obviously understand that some moments are heightened for entertainment purposes but when you watch as the group of geniuses, who have struggled with cracking the code, finally find the answer, you feel your heart literally stopping as you take a huge deep breath. Any director who can bring on that kind of reaction deserves huge praise indeed. This is more than a film about secrets heroism. This is a film about prejudice, about secrets beyond those of the war. This is about a man who had to live a life full of lies, not just professionally. This is about a time when homosexuality was so frowned upon in British society, it was a criminal offence. This too is handled with compassion and anger, yet it isn’t preached about or, for that matter, made a focal point, which it could have quite easily be.
It also helps when you have such a strong cast of actors to work with. Stalwarts Charles Dance and Mark Strong are, as usual, on top form in smaller but equally important roles. Young Alex Lawther is quirky enough to pull of the part of the Young Alan, while Matthew Goode, as the dashing chess expert, Hugh Alexander, is perfectly charming while mixing in just enough arrogance to make him still likeable. Keira Knightley shows us, once again, just how good she is getting as Joan Clarke, the woman who enters Alan’s mixed up life after cracking a crossword puzzle in under six minutes. Once again, she delivers a terrific performance and holds her own well in the scenes with Alan, which is a hard thing to do.
The reason being two words: Benedict Cumberbatch. A man who has become a highly respected actor in such a short space of time and you can understand why after watching him here. As the socially inept Alan, he gives us everything he’s got and more. A man who cannot deal with people, who only understands logic and doesn’t get jokes, he is a tough character to win the audience with and yet Cumberbatch does it with ease. His presence doesn’t just command the screen, it engulfs it. You are with him all the way, from his darkest hours to the moments of pure joy, it is one of those performances that you couldn’t have bettered even if you tried.
This is an outstanding film about an outstanding man. It will live with you long after the screen fades to black and you will want to find out more about this remarkable person. The Imitation Game is perfection in every sense of the word and come awards time, expect it and Mr Cumberbatch, to be high on the list.