The Imitation Game is a historical thriller based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. The film is on selective release in my area and isn’t showing in all theaters. It has a definite indie feel to it even though it has A-list actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightly. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a 90% critic rating and a 95% audience rating. And the Imitation Games has been nominated for multiple accolades.
Going into the film I knew very little about Alan Turing. I’d only heard a little bit about the story from an interview that Benedict Cumberbatch had done earlier in the month and I didn’t expect the movie to be very thrilling. I thought it would be another mildly interesting bio-pic. I was very wrong. The Imitation Game is thrilling from the first scene. Benedict Cumberbatch portrays Alan Turing as an eccentric and socially awkward genius. Throughout the film you see glimpses into Alan Turing’s childhood, his work on decrypting the Enigma code during World War II, as well as his life after the war. The entire cast did a great job bringing the characters to life. But Benedict Cumberbatch shines in this role. His use of micro-expressions makes his performance extremely convincing. And by the end of the movie you’ll have a new-found respect if not love for Alan Turing. The film really brought me on an emotional ride that I didn’t expect.
Warning: Spoilers after the jump
There are jumps through time all throughout the film and much of the characterization of Turing is done through flashback. This can be confusing at times because both post-WWII Turing and WWII Turing are played by Cumberbatch and the transition between can be very sudden with no clear delineation of time. My other gripe about the film is that though it was thrilling, it wasn’t historically very accurate. Curious about the events of the film, I read up a little more and discovered that many of the elements I loved about the film were exaggerated or fabricated entirely.
For example, there was a moment after Enigma had been cracked in which Turing and his group at Hut 8 had to make a decision whether or not to use the information they’d decoded to save a passenger carrier under imminent attack by German U-boats. Turing and Hut 8 never had to make this decision as the information was passed on to higher ups who ultimately made the decision. At the end of the film they also implied that Alan Turing’s death was a direct result of his being forced to undergo chemical castration. I felt that this was added in to further the political agenda of the film and it soured the film a little for me.
But overall, I really liked the movie and I’m glad that I went to watch it. The movie was moving and thrilling and even had spots of comedy that I really enjoyed. If the Imitation Game is showing in your area and you haven’t seen it I would definitely recommend checking it out.