Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Now on Netflix: The Imitation Game (2014)

The Imitation Game (2014) - Directed by Morten Tyldum; Written by Graham Moore; Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode.

By Kenny Howell

An important historical event gets Hollywoodized and saved by the cast in this Oscar nominated film.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the brilliant Alan Turing, basically the father of the computer and pioneering mathematician. He created a machine during World War II that broke the Nazi's Enigma Code, the encrypted messages that the Germans used to communicate their war strategies.

The Imitation Game tells the story of the team put together, partially led by Turing, that broke that code. The British government brought together a group of talented minds, mathematicians, code breakers, and other bright people to tackle that problem. The initiative is secret for obvious reasons. That was troublesome for Turing who was already under suspicion for something sinister, possibly being a Russian double agent. The real reason for part of secrecy is that Turing was a homosexual, something that was illegal at the time.

It's kind of not fair to the filmmakers because Turing's life has so many aspects worth exploring. He was a brilliant mind, one that changed the world because of his inventions, because of his hand in ending the second world war, and the societal struggle he went through for being a homosexual. Director Morten Tyldum tries to have it both ways, focusing on a single area of his life, the code breaking, while also trying to encapsulate his entire life within the narrative. That leaves the film seeing a bit scattered at times, and a tad rushed. He also wants to put the Hollywood gloss on it, dumbing down the ideas that Turing used (talk more about how the machine works at least), and not giving the audience enough credit.

Luckily, Tyldum has Cumberbatch, a very charming Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode. All are at the top of the game, especially Cumberbatch as the oddball Turing, who struggles with human interaction. They definitely elevate the material, and carry the film through the parts that end up being a bit rocky.

The Imitation Game is currently streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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