The Imitation Game

Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain's top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.


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  • ★★★½ review by DirkH on Letterboxd

    There is something appealingly old fashioned about The Imitation Game, while at the same time that's its biggest problem.

    Films about WW2 have always held a certain appeal to me and The Imitation Game hearkens back to those classic 'big' productions that tried to capture and somewhat romanticize what the times were like back then. These films weren't dealing with the gritty nature of war but more with the road to victory already traveled. This film has a sweeping story, bombastic music and a nostalgic sense of style. All these things are done to a high standard and betray a craftsmanship and attention to detail that I greatly enjoyed, making me skip over the more forced dramatic moments without problems.

    But this is also another film. It's a biography of a brilliant mind, a man struggling with his identity, his sexuality and his problems connecting to and communicating with other people (I'm not calling it autism as Turing has never been proven to be autistic). The story hops and skips through time in an attempt to paint an accurate picture of Turing and to explore his mind. This is handled pretty well in some areas, but the films just can't seem to decide how far it is willing to go. Is it 'just' a film about an important and intriguing historical event or is it also an in depth biopic. In fact, it's neither and that's a bit of a shame. It only scratches the surface of its main subject (most notably his homosexuality) and when it does try to touch on some tougher issues it treats it with the same British politeness it so beautifully emulates. Even though I think this is, overall, a solid and very well made film, I still feel this is a huge missed opportunity. I think this is most evident in the film's closing text where we get to read some of the events after the film. It clearly wants to respect the man, but it clumsily skirts around some potentially gripping material.

    The cast is outstanding, put Dance and Strong in one room and I'm pretty happy, and Knightly didn't annoy me which is no small feat. But Cumberbatch was absolutely superb. I was afraid I would not be able to look beyond the obvious comparison to Sherlock Holmes, but he quickly did away with that by giving us a dedicated and versatile performance. What he does with his voice and his line delivery here is superb. The slight stammer, the breaths taken to articulate the right words, it's truly impressive. Where I was afraid he would go completely overboard on occasion (to be honest, he does do that a bit towards the end), he often managed to show restraint, giving much needed emotional weight to key scenes.

    The Imitation Game is a solid, yet light, film that would have benefited from a slightly rougher edge or a clearer idea of what it wanted to be.

  • ★★★★ review by Laura Raud on Letterboxd

    I'm getting a little bit tired of Benedict Cumberbatch always being cast as the "autistic genius" but I'm never going to get tired of Benedict Cumberbatch.

  • ★★★★ review by Esteban Gonzalez on Letterboxd

    “Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

    It is easy to fall in love with The Imitation Game because it is a fact-based film about a man who in Winston Churchill’s words “made the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany.” Alan Turing’s story is one worth being portrayed on film because he played a huge role in shaping our history as one of the pioneers of modern-day computing. In school we are all taught what a huge factor the soldiers and allied forces played in winning the war after the Normandy landings, but little is known about these code breakers that were able to crack the unbreakable Enigma machine that the Germans used during the War. From the opening scene, Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters), catches our attention and delivers a powerful (although by the books) biopic. The film isn’t groundbreaking and it follows most of the genre conventions biopics do, but it does so through some great performances and a solid production design that immerses us into the decades of the 40’s and 50’s. The film is told in non-linear fashion beginning with how Alan began being investigated by the Brtish authorities for indecent behavior. It later goes back 10 years to when Britain was at war with Nazi Germany and where Alan Turing began working with other scholars trying to crack the enemy’s communication codes. The film jumps back and forth as we also get some background information of Alan’s youth where he was introduced to the world of codes and cyphering. Alan’s story is fascinating and deserves a big screen adaptation as strong as this one because despite being a genius and having saved thousands of lives by shortening the war, he was disgraced and shamed for his homosexual behavior when he should’ve been hailed as a war hero. The film’s greatest strength is the inspiring fact-based story itself.

    Benedict Cumberbatch has delivered several groundbreaking performances over his career, but I doubt he’s been as great as he is in The Imitation Game. Cumberbatch transforms himself completely and becomes Alan Turing. He invested himself for this role and it completely payed off. He portrays the conflicting emotions and inner turmoil of his character in an authentic and realistic way. Cumberbatch and Tyldum do an amazing job of honoring a man who never received the credit he deserved during his lifetime. Cumberbatch’s performance and Tyldum’s attention to detail in this period drama is what stands out other than the inspiring story adapted by Graham Moore. Keira Knightley and Mark Strong both deliver solid supporting performances as well. Knightley has received a lot of praise for her role here and deservedly so, but I was most pleased with Strong’s strong performance as the MI6 director, Stewart Menzies. It’s hard not to enjoy this film considering its story alone is fascinating, but Tyldum does deliver a solid biopic by working with a talented cast, having an eye for period detail, and hiring Alexandre Desplat as the composer giving the already emotional and touching story more depth.

  • ★★★★★ review by Ryan Francis on Letterboxd

    One of the most absorbing films I've seen this year, with another fantastic performance from the magnificent Benedict Cumberbatch that further proves my theory that he can do no wrong. Just a pretty damn phenomenal film all-around.

  • ★★★½ review by CinemaClown on Letterboxd

    The Second World War is the single greatest phenomenon in the history of mankind. No other event comes even marginally close to the impact World War II had on global scale for it not only altered the political & social structure around the world but also ended up enriching the fields of art, literature, films & television with countless events, so many that even after 70 years we’re still in the process of discovering entirely new things about it.

    Now The Imitation Game doesn’t really bring anything new to the film canvas in that regard but it sheds more light on the unsung heroes whose wartime breakthroughs & contributions played a major role in changing the outcome of the last great war. The film tells the story of the legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing & his team of code-breakers racing against time to break the Nazi Germany's Enigma-encrypted codes in order to get ahead of their enemy.

    Brilliantly directed by Morten Tyldum, the entire story is narrated in 3 overlapping plotlines, each covering a different stage of Turing's life, and is quite gripping when those elements align to work as one but then it also stumbles with its non-linear narration whenever it shifts from one timeline to another, which feels abrupt & intrusive. Graham Moore's screenplay wonderfully glosses over Turing's life & plays out many events in a pretty authentic manner.

    Coming to technical aspects, Production Design team’s most notable work is the electro-mechanical bombe itself which Turing designed to decipher the Enigma-generated ciphers. Filming locations are wisely chosen to keep it as authentic as possible. Cinematography makes fine use of camera, neatly balances the colour hues & retains the image sharpness till the end. Editing is a mixed bag, while Alexandre Desplat once again delivers with a very fitting score.

    As far as performances go, The Imitation Game features a reliable cast in Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance & others, and the performances are definitely one of its stronger aspects. Leading from the front is Cumberbatch who is absolutely outstanding in the role of Alan Turing, Knightley is surprisingly good as Joan Clarke & the rest of the supporting cast also chip in with vital contributions to lift the story up by a great extent.

    On an overall scale, The Imitation Game is an interesting portrait of an eccentric individual whose works have been highly influential in the fields of computer science & artificial intelligence, is a heartbreaking story of a misfit who never publicly received the credit for his game-changing wartime efforts, and is a critical view of one of United Kingdom's most disgraceful acts in the post-war era. Although this historical drama is no masterpiece, it's still engaging, entertaining & satisfying from start to finish, and is definitely worth a shot.

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