Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Imitation Game (2014)


What is it about eccentric geniuses that draw audiences to flock to movies about them? Is it the wonder that someone could be so smart and yet so socially awkward? Is it the fact that we admire them and yet feel superior to them? Or do we enjoy the performances that these movies deliver? Hard to say, but I will say that A Beautiful Mind may have some competition for best biography about a grumpy mathematician.


Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant mathematician who becomes part of a team working for the British government. Their job is to crack the top secret Nazi code that will give them a much-needed advantage in the world war raging around them. Turing may be a genius but he is completely devoid of any social niceties. His abrasive nature soon gains him the ire of his entire team, especially the influential Commander Denniston (Charles Dance).

But then Turing encounters the extremely bright and pretty Joan Clark (Keira Knightley). She contributes to the team even though the entirely male group resents her presence. She is also able to help Turing learn new approaches to get his team to work with rather than against him. But time is running out. The Nazis seem to be winning every battle and there may be a spy on the team. Can Turing’s team crack the code with his new computing machine, or is this the maddest idea ever conceived of? If you are reading this on a computer, then I think you know the answer.

Good Points:
  • Some really good performances supporting Cumberbatch’s excellent one
  • Gives a good feeling of the multiple timeframes it covers
  • Provides a look at an aspect of WWII that we don’t often see explored in film

Bad Points:
  • Jumps around in the timeline for very little narrative impact
  • Feels a bit routine, hitting on many of the familiar biopic routines
  • Someone looking for a more thrilling side of WWII will be disappointed


This is a film that works because of its performances and the interesting story at the heart of it. Turing and his path to break Nazi codes is a fascinating story. He is a very intriguing person and his relationships with his team and the military creates plenty of drama. Unfortunately the film feels the need to jump forward and backward in time, interrupting the narrative. It feels unnecessary and much of the information could have been delivered in other ways while keeping us to the main storyline. Worth seeing if you are interested in the subject and like the cast, but don’t expect anything too special.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 3
Sound: 3
Acting: 4
Script: 4
Music: 4
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 3
Total:  3

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.

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  1. I really enjoyed that one a lot. I like movies about unknown events from history, and the way they presented it kept my interest to the end.

    1. I really enjoyed the topic, I kinda wish it had stayed with the 40s material. So many biopics jump around in the time line and usually there isn't a good reason for it. In this one, I kinda see why they did it, but it still really interrupted the flow the film for me. I also felt like there were scenes missing and minor characters that just disappeared for a while and then returned. Probably picking nits. My wife really liked it.

  2. This would have been a boundary-pushing film in 1954 for any number of reasons, but by 2014 it was pretty conventional. Nonetheless Turing and his times are intrinsically interesting enough. In a way the flick harkens back to the old 1930s/40s biopics of Edison, Bell, Ziegfeld and others, which isn’t a bad way to hark.

    1. Yeah I think there was a lot of potential here to be a great film. I guess I was hoping for a bit more because of all the praise it got. As it stands I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it.