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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Imitation Game | Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Charles Dance, Mark Strong | Review

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5sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT Judy Thorburn

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5lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT


The Imitation Game

The average person probably doesn't know who the late Alan Turing was. Yet, if it wasn't for his work on a top secret British project during World War II, the world as we know it today might be a very different place if the Allies hadn't defeated the invading Nazi army.

The historical drama, The Imitation Game is based on the true story of the brilliant mathematician and cryptographer that during World War II led his team of the best cryptic minds in England to crack the German communications' Enigma code, deemed the most difficult in the world and impossible to break.

Benedict Cumberbatch does a magnificent and totally convincing job inhabiting the persona of Alan Turing, a socially awkward genius and arrogant loner, whose story goes back and forth in time to events beginning in 1951 post war, Manchester England, when the police were called to investigate a robbery at Turing's home that led to his arrest on indecency charges, to flashbacks of his troubled youth (played by Alex Lawther) in the late 1920's when he was considered a misfit, was bullied by his classmates and experienced his first crush.

Glimpses into Turing's past are insightful, yet most of the action revolves around Turing's involvement in Britain's top secret program during World War II inside a workshop at Benchley Radio Manufacturing Company. That is where Turing and his team, including handsome Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (Allen Leech), Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard); and the only woman Joan Clarke (an impressive, strong performance by Kiera Knightly) were committed to cracking the code that would inevitably help shorten the war and save millions of lives.

To help him decrypt the code from an Enigma machine that was smuggled out of Berlin, Turing built a machine (the forerunner of the modern day computer) he named “Christopher”. When time goes by with no breakthrough, Turing's impatient, hard-ass boss, Navy Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) threatens to destroy Turing's expensive machine but is convinced to give the team one more month to break the code. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and MI 6 British Intelligence Chief, Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) turn out to be valuable supporters, overriding the Commander's threat, thereby allowing Turing and his team to continue their mission without interference.

Norwegian director,  Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) working from Graham Moore's adaptation of Andrew Hodges’ book, “Alan Turing: The Enigma”, beautifully captures the look and feel of the time periods and delivers a riveting, well executed film highlighted by Cumberbatch's extraordinary performance in which he never delivers a false note. Kiera Knightly lends solid support as the solo female genius on his team who formed a supportive, loving, but platonic close relationship with Turning and became his most trusted confident.

More than an intelligent wartime movie, The Imitation Game is about secrets, lies, and deceptions and paints a bittersweet portrait of a man who that was caught up in all three in both his personal and professional life.

Sadly, instead of being hailed as a war hero, Turing was unjustly prosecuted for being a homosexual.  Sentenced for “indecency”, he agreed to undergo hormonal therapy to suppress his “desires”, rather than going to jail .  Suffice to say, this led to his untimely suicide at age 41.

Turing believed that “just because something thinks differently doesn't mean it doesn't think”. The title of the film refers to Turing's test of the same name from a paper he wrote, in which a series of questions determine what participant is human and who is machine.

President John F. Kennedy stated in his Inaugural Address, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. That said, Turing was a patriot who served his country by helping to end the war and in return he was condemned for being gay. Rather than wrongfully persecuting him, he should have received recognition and acclaim for his achievements.

Unfortunately, Turing's contributions to World War II was not made public until decades after his death. Hopefully, this excellent, but heartbreaking true story will help people understand the real man and, posthumously, reward him with the true credit and praise that he so rightfully deserves.


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