(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to incorporate an “enigma” or something hidden into the poem, so I thought a movie about solving Enigma would be perfect. For my own secret message, try stringing together the underlined letters.)
The German Codes in safety rode
Upon the winds of radio,
And passed with ease their strategies
To Mystify the Allied foe.
Bright minds were scratched and Egos matched,
The Riddle daily taxing Brains
Who knew their best At this math Test
Could still Harm lives and Squander gains.
Unraveling this Risky thing
Was not for one man to Explain.
What Cracked And tamed the Numbers game?
A mind Combined To break the chain.
MPAA rating: PG-13
Benedict Cumberbatch seems most comfortable playing the smartest guy in the room, even if he only thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room. Sherlock, Doctor Strange, etc. exemplify this, and The Imitation Game allowed him to apply that proven characterization to a real-life figure, Alan Turing, a mathematical computer pioneer who helped crack the German Enigma code during World War II.
Cumberbatch is the film’s strongest asset, channeling the same troubled-genius mentality as Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, not so much in the mental health aspects as in his blinding self-confidence and difficulty working with others. His acting, as always, is beyond reproach and distinguishes Turing as a man of vision frustrated by the inflexibility of his superior (Charles Dance) but too single-minded himself to recognize the need for collaboration with the rest of his team of genius mathematicians. Keira Knightley’s Joan Clarke serves as an attractive reminder that a talent for numbers is not Turing’s alone, and it’s an insightful pleasure watching Cumberbatch engage with her and his fellow teammates to perfect his decoding machine. The espionage angle involving a major general from MI6 (Mark Strong) is also peppered with intrigue.
The performances, Alexandre Desplat’s score, and the period-piece re-creations are top-notch, but the film’s historical accuracy leaves much to be desired. Many “based-on-a-true-story” movies take artistic license, but learning after the fact that most of the events of the film occurred completely differently is rather disappointing. Likewise, the film’s ultimate transition from code breaking and war strategies to a social tragedy centered on the treatment of Turing’s homosexuality lost my interest. This aspect of Turing’s life was clearly important and lamentable, but it felt tacked on and even a tad manipulative when paired with the historical liberties. The Imitation Game is handsome and well-acted and even consummate in its first half, but the dual intentions of the filmmakers to merge two kinds of stories, one about war decoders and one about social injustice, feel like a forced fit that doesn’t live up to its early promise.
Best line: (Turing’s childhood friend Christopher, and later Joan) “Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”
Rank: Honorable Mention
© 2017 S.G. Liput
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