Thursday, November 27, 2014

Movie with Abe: The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Released November 28, 2014

There are countless films that have been made about World War II. Many focus on the harshness of the Holocaust, while others deal with the stark reality of war. Others shine a light on less-known stories that, due to their secret nature, never got the publicity they deserved so many years ago. Earlier this year, “The Monuments Men” followed a brigade of soldiers sent to Europe to save precious works of art, and now “The Imitation Game” tells a different tale, one of mathematicians tasked with breaking the code the Germans used to encrypt messages to tip the war in the Allies’ favor.

This story begins with the brilliant and antisocial Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) presenting himself for an unsolicited interview with Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) for an unadvertised job working to crack the Enigma code. Clearly intelligent, Turing begins working with a small band of mathematicians on an impossible task whose impact would be immeasurable. Displeased with the motivation of his coworkers, Turing commandeers the operation and hires a bright young woman, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) to discreetly join the team and to help on the construction of a formidable machine to achieve their mission.

“The Imitation Game” is designed as a thriller, one which uses newsreels from the war to compound the importance of the success of this project. Making calculations and the pursuit of a technological solution to cracking transmitted messages exciting is a considerable task, and this film manages to do it well, thanks in part to an energizing score by Alexandre Desplat. Director Morten Tyldum’s previous film was the fantastic “Headhunters,” and here he’s able to once again merge genres into something compelling by turning the novel by Andrew Hodges, with help from screenwriter Graham Moore, into an energizing and compelling film-worthy story.

Cumberbatch, who I first saw back in 2007 when I started this blog in “Starter for 10,” has been building towards a film role of this magnitude after winning over TV viewers with “Sherlock” and appearing in supporting roles in films from “Star Trek Into Darkness” to “12 Years a Slave.” Here, he perfectly inhabits the role of Turing, radiating superior intelligence and a disdain for others that makes him a fitting scientist hero. Knightley is charming in a role less prominent than usual, and dependable Brits Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, and Dance enhance a competent supporting cast. The film manages to stay interesting throughout, achieving a peak towards its finish and then ending on an unsettling note true to real events. It’s not the best war movie ever made, but it does manage to succeed in crafting a solid film with a specialized focus.


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