Friday, November 27, 2015

The Imitation Game (2014) Review:

When it comes to war, frequent successes have been documented in and out of the battlefield. Sure, the act of participating in war results in a much different human being when it's all over Vs doing everything else behind the lines but either or, they all played a part in the meat grinder that is the lethal conflict between countries. During the first number of years in World War II, Germany had several nations on the run or at least just barely holding their own against Adolf Hitler and his Nazi followers. One of the reasons why Germany was so on top of the game was due to their communication system known as Enigma. Enigma was a crafty setup of transmissions that had a certain code attached to it but had a time stamp of only a day. Once the time expired, the Nazis would then reset their code and start with a fresh slate. For the allied powers (at the time excluding the US), this was a real pain because deciphering the code was difficult enough, but then having to figure out a new set every day turned out being more than many could handle.

Keira Knightley
Enter Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), the man who would discover how to crack the complex Nazi communication code. The story mainly follows the points in time of how Turing works towards figuring out a solution to understanding how Hitler and his crew were so untouchable. Along with that are a number of flash forwards and backwards to help develop Turing as the main lead. Headed by Norwegian director Morten Tyldum and written by Graham Moore in their first British film with a west coast release, this movie has a number of points throughout its run time that demonstrate the point of this film is not about the triumph of good over evil in World War II, but of something deeper. World War II and cracking Enigma is more of a backdrop than anything else to this highly character driven story. Throughout the film, viewers are introduced to various other individuals that influence Turing in several ways. Keira Knightley plays Joan Clarke, a tough female who also cares a lot for Turing.

Matthew Goode plays a collaborative associate with Turing and although they both start off on the wrong foot, they end up mending their points of view for the better of others. Charles Dance plays the commander in charge of Turing and regrets ever giving him a chance after Winston Churchill put Turing in charge of the program. Mark Strong also has a role as 2nd in command and has further information given about him later. Last of importance is Rory Kinnear who plays a detective after the events of World War II who's looking to interview Turing. What's great about Kinnear's part is that he basically serves as the audience - asking certain questions in which the answers given can be interpreted by they themselves along with Kinnear's scripted reactions. The supporting cast is what truly helps give the story such a strong foundation. Without the right actors and a properly written script, the character development would not have been as strong. There are several moments that may even through the audience off guard.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing gives a believable performance and as awkward as the main lead is portrayed, he still carries an enormous amount of charm. Much of this comes from the fact that Turing speaks his mind very bluntly. This is not because he's immature or does so just because. He does it because he knows he's right and the delivery at which it is given is deadpan. This in itself evokes the whole point and main theme behind the screenplay. The moral is to be yourself no matter what people say or think about you. Many viewers will be able understand and connect to Turing as time goes on. Turing was no Albert Einstein who is usually helmed as one of the greatest scientists of an older generation. Turing was a tragic hero, a person who faced failure and aggression everywhere he went all because of him trying to crack a Nazi code with radical ideas. Adding to that development is how Turing deals with discovering the solution and then running into more obstacles after that personally and professionally. It's not like once the solution was found everything was hunky dory, no sir.

"Are we going to stare all day or,...."
It is interesting to see the facts given in the epilogue to the story. Knowing and understanding the history behind it is an informative move. However once this happens, in some ways the film feels like it was trying to prove a conspiracy theory because of how top secret this operation was. This is stated because it will make the viewer wonder how things could've turned out if Alan Turing did not step up to the task of cracking the Enigma code. Outside of the written areas of the film, the other technical parts were adequate. Oscar Faura as the cinematographer produced well lit and clear shots for the film. No panning landscape shots were filmed but it was nice to see various clips of historical archive footage. The music composed by Alexandre Desplat was kind of a disappointment though. There are some effective tracks but not a whole lot of it stood out as memorable. Most of the score came across as largely generic with no reoccurring motif. Oh well, guess you can't have everything.

It's music feels somewhat underdeveloped and it sometimes feels like it's trying to unveil a conspiracy theory but it isn't a huge issue. The cast all act very well, the script develops its characters effectively and the its overall message about accomplishing one's goals is an inspiring tale told through Alan Turing's life experiences.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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