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The Imitation Game Review

By David Kempler

The Game That Won WWII

By the end of "The Imitation Game" I was furious, not because I didn't like it, but rather because of what its central character, Alan Turing, had experienced. That I ended up so worked up about it was somewhat a tribute to the director, Morten Tyldum, and to the performances, in particular, Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing. But primarily it was the utter insanity surrounding the life of the real Alan Turing.

During World War II, the Allies were losing, in no small part due to a Nazi invention called "Enigma". What Enigma did was send out coded messages to Nazi outposts, giving instructions as to where and how to attack the Allies. Great Britain was reeling, enduring the blitzkriegs that sent its citizens scurrying into bomb shelters with daily regularity. In the morning, the people would emerge from hiding to see more of their country being blown apart.

A top-secret project was launched to put an end to Enigma. What was needed was the brightest decoders that could be found. They were all brought to a central place where they wrestled with the codes, trying in vain to break them, in order to gain knowledge about any upcoming attacks. The biggest problem facing these people was that the codes were changed every day. There just wasn't enough time to decode the signals.

Alan Turing joined the team. He was a great mathematician, but socially inept and unable to play well with others. He wanted no part of the team concept, preferring to work on it himself. Needless to say, this did not endear him to his co-workers, not that he cared in the least. He had an idea as to how to defeat Enigma. No one else, at least initially, thought it could work.

"The Imitation Game" is about Turing's battle within himself, both professionally and personally and Cumberbatch does a helluva great job at portraying Mr. Turing in all of his facets of life. His performance will certainly garner nominations for various awards. Even more impressive than his performance is the reality of what Turing accomplished and how he was rewarded for his actions.

Without going into too much detail, let's just say that every schoolkid should learn about Turing and his accomplishments. That he is not a national hero in Great Britain with a holiday dedicated to him strikes me as criminal. When you learn more about how he was treated after the war, you may be as horrified as I was.

I have one complaint with "The Imitation Game". It is extremely manipulative and at times you might find yourself rolling your eyes at how mechanical it sometimes feels. Usually, that is enough to take me out of the story, but the performance of Cumberbatch and the incredible reality of what we are watching, keeps it firmly placed on the rails. This is must-see moviemaking even if one can't help but believe there is an even better film that could have come out of this. Until a better imitation comes along, this game is still very worth your playtime.

What did you think?

Movie title The Imitation Game
Release year 2014
MPAA Rating PG-13
Our rating
Summary The story of Alan Turing will amaze and infuriate you. Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of him will probably earn him an Oscars nomination.
View all articles by David Kempler
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