Benedict Cumberbatch is currently the most in demand actor in the world thanks to his truly transformative performances, and his turn as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game is no exception.
Time is running out for Britain and the Germans continue to inflict heavy losses on Allied fleets and regiments thanks to their superior code encryption device Enigma. With nowhere else to turn, the British High Command seeks help from an unorthodox unit of scholars including mathematicians, linguists, physicists and chess champions to help them break the unbreakable. One of them is Alan Turing, a gifted but emotionally distant mathematician who might just hold the key to their success.
The Search For Greatness
In his performance as Alan Turing, a mathematician held up as a hero before he was eventually turned upon by the people he helped, Cumberbatch has created a man desperate to prove his greatness. The normally jovial Cumberbatch is seen here as a shy, introverted, yet extremely arrogant mathematician whose own personal endeavours come at the cost of everything else in his life. His determination to crack Enigma is unrelenting, and watching Cumberbatch as he scrambles to do it is undeniably engrossing. While intellectual brilliance is one shade of who Turning is, he also goes to great lengths to hide his own personal demons from every one around him, creating a true portrait of absolute tortured genius.
The arena of Bletchly Park, the name and location given to the British Governments Code and Cypher School, serves to inflict a notion of constant surveillance and paranoia around Turing, and director Morten Tyldum really draws upon this. Succinct production and costume design also create and add to the film’s atmosphere.
While Turing’s pursuit to break Enigma and his secret private life are the subject of the film, Tyldum creates a real ensemble piece with a great supporting cast. Kiera Knightley’s Joan Clarke provides a sympathetic ear for Cumberbatch’s Turing, driving him to believe in himself, and having some sympathy for the inner torture that he feels in regards to his sexual orientation. Matthew Goode is the slick, debonair Hugh Alexander, a mathematician and chess champion who fancies himself a bit of a ladies man, and who butts head with Turing on multiple occasions. Charles Dance brings an icy authority to Royal Navy Commander Alastair Denniston, while Mark Strong has a particularly playful role as spy master Major General Stewart Menzies, who as the founder of MI6 is engaged in plenty of manipulative games.
The Imitation Game is both a frantic drama and espionage film, as well as a love letter to the power of computing and the frantic genius that created them. It draws its audience in with a compelling story and a breathtaking performance from its lead actor. It simply cannot be missed.