Based on the real life story of computing genius Alan Turing, The Imitation Game follows Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he is hired by the British government for a top secret project where he and a team of code-breakers have to figure out Enigma, the notorious World War II code machine that proves to be impossible to break. Despite clashes with his team, and attempts to hide his homosexuality, which was still illegal at the time, Turing sets his time on building a gargantuan machine that can break the code and win the war.
The Imitation Game was hotly anticipated upon release, not least because of its controversy. When it was revealed that Kiera Knightley would be portraying Turing’s once fiancÃ© Joan Clarke, many accused the filmmakers of ˜straightening up’ Turing by making more of his relationship to Clarke than was actually there. If you’re one of those people, there is no need to worry, as not only is The Imitation Game completely respectful to Turing, it’s also a wonderful film in its own right.
Obviously the most advertised part of the film is Benedict Cumberbatch, and it’s easy to why. His performance is simply breath-taking, expertly capturing everything fascinating about the man he is portraying, not to mention making a figure on a cultural pedestal human and flawed again. Turing is not perfect, and there are many points where, in the hands of another actor, Turing could easily come across as supremely unlikeable. However, the film has Cumberbatch, which manages to keep the investment in the character going even in his flawed moments.
The supporting cast all do a brilliant job as well. Matthew Goode is endlessly entertaining in his delightful cad Stewart Menzies, although that reputation strips away as the film goes to reveal a man genuinely committed to the mission and transforming into someone you root for completely. Kiera Knightley also turns in what is undoubtedly the best performance of her career to date. She is sweet, loving, and amazingly chipper in the face of all the casual sexism women faced at the time, fighting her way through and giving Turing someone he can rely on as a trusting friend.
Praise should also be given to the script and direction, which effortlessly work together to keep something which is completely engaging 100% of the time. Never once does your interest waiver or your thoughts wander. The Imitation Game‘s 114 minute running time goes by in a flash and keeps the audience going with subplots and framing devices, often jumping time periods and characters, and at first not appearing to have any relevance, before joining to main plot to form an intricately weaved story that is expertly put together.