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THE IMITATION GAME The Turing Test

The-Imitation-Game

Directed by Morten Tyldum

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kiera Knightley, Charles Dance

Bletchley Park was one of the best kept secrets of the war. The deciphering of the Enigma code laid the Axis’ communications bare and was fundamental to the Allies chances of victory. Ever wondered how Montgomery often hit Rommel where his fuel supplies were near to exhaustion, or why the most critical German supply convoys often ended up at the bottom of the ocean? Here is your answer. Alan Turing was key to this breakthrough, and the work done in the creation of his code cracking universal machine saw him recognised as one of the fathers of our computer age. The Imitation Game is his tale, showing the breakthrough moment of this strange and brilliant man that was seemingly born before his time.

Set in three critical periods of Turing’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life, The Imitation Game predominantly covers his Bletchley Park days and the building of the Universal Machine that was capable of cracking the supposedly unbreakable Enigma code. It examines the fragile relationships this eccentric genius had with his fellow cryptographers and the often fractious dealings he had with the military. The audience is also shown his early school years and how they shaped his personality and the expression of his sexuality, as well as Turing’s later years and eventual fate.

Current screen darling Benedict Cumberbatch is perhaps a too obvious casting choice for this role, but manages to pitch the performance roughly in the sweet spot by delivering some inspiring work. He is at his best when he plays Turing as awkward and socially unaware, there it feels like a unique creation. However when there is a hint of confidence and superiority in the delivery, then it does present shades of Holmes – not enough to derail the performance, but enough to be distracting.

There is a lot on offer here; the strange calculus of war wherein a loss of life is weighed against the protection of a secret, the practice of spycraft, the strange alliance between Russia and Brittan, Turing’s homosexuality, his shabby treatment for such a proclivity, and his eventual tragic death. Each of which is touched on briefly by the film, any of which would make an interesting subject in its own right, although it would lead the plot down a further rabbit hole that The Imitation Game is unwilling to explore with any depth. Instead it at least touches on them, while remaining satisfied with its almost trite message of “it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine”. The result is a solid, albeit underwhelming, movie that covers the pertinent aspects of Turing’s life, all told with the occasional flourish to lift it above the average biopic.

A solid telling of an amazing story. Better than the average, but still doesn’t quite seem to do such an extraordinary figure justice.

DAVID O’CONNELL