Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Imitation Game

During the Second World War, the Germans created a seemingly unbreakable code known as Enigma. The British government hire a group of mathematicians and scientists, including Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), to attempt to break the code. Despite the other scientists using mathematical equations to crack the code, Turing invests more time in building a machine that he believes will be able to decode any German Enigma message. However, his complicated relations with fellow code-breaker Joan Clarke (Kiera Knightley) complicate matters, as does the fact that his machine doesn't seem on ever intending on working.

A British-American historical drama covering the story of the war with themes of political unrest and homosexuality. If that doesn't scream "Oscar Bait" then I don't know what does. Which is why it's lucky that The Imitation Game is as good as it is, otherwise it could very easily be termed a predictable grab for the awards come next year. It's not all perfect, there are minor character wobbles and it relies on an annoyingly formulaic structure, but the most part this is pretty great stuff. It looks good visually with some nicely designed sets and costumes, it's powerfully written and the acting is sublime throughout. And hey, after this performance, Benedict Cumberbatch won't be typecast as Sherlock! Hooray!

Visually, The Imitation Game benefits from its era. We occasionally (albeit quickly) cut to war and battle sequences and despite the brevity of these moments, the effects are nicely put together and add a startling sense of wartime realism in an otherwise relatively battle-free film. This lack of battle works though, it grounds us into the characters we need to focus on and allow us to sink into the seriousness of the story. Cumberbatch is terrific, as is Knightley, and I would very much like to see them both rewarded come Oscar season. It's well written and smartly put together, even if it does annoyingly resort to the "Man Telling His Story To The Police" structure, but by the film's closing moments that doesn't really matter.

To Summarise: Benefited by strong performances and a sturdy script, The Imitation Game is an intelligent war time thriller with enough sophistication to match its substance.

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