The Imitation Game

February 5, 2015 By

A run of the mill somewhat historical somewhat biographical movie that feels too Hollywood to be true. The broad strokes of history are there but get kicked aside when the film changes course in search of Oscar gold.

Mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is tasked with leading a team to try and crack the Nazi’s advanced Enigma code. The code was thought to be impossible to break, and it was by any techniques typically implemented at the time. Turing thought highly of his own intelligence. This made him the right man for the job but also a nightmare for his co-workers to be around. By the time Turing and the former project lead, Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) get along enough to move the project forward they realize fresh eyes are needed. They hold a test they thought was impossible until a woman named Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) breaks the code and also breaks the code of Turing’s anti-social demeanor.
There is nothing outright wrong with The Imitation Game. World War II movies have a special place in the hearts and minds of all Americans. A battle of good vs. evil, the greatest generation, etc. But there is also nothing outright brilliant about it. The trailers and subject matter giveaway big parts of the historical impact on it and the film deviates so far from the war torn storyline that it feels like a separate movie altogether.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a good actor. He became a huge success with Sherlock and continued to be a fan favorite in Star Trek into Darkness and then in The Hobbit movies that take place before Lord of the Rings. The problem with Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game is only a problem because of film awards. He is being talked about as the best actor of 2014 for his role in this film. He is more deserving of an Oscar for voicing Smaug since that was at least a deviation from what we all know he can do. Cumberbatch can play hyper-intelligent and socially inept. It’s a stereotype for smart characters and it’s also the role Cumberbatch used to get to this level of fame. While he did a good job it was nothing outstanding, especially for him. Mark Strong, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, and Allen Leech all round out the supporting cast, not as characters, but as catalysts for the plot.

Without going into a full research paper on the historical facts compared to the Hollywood version of the film it is clear the movie did little more than hit the broad strokes of history. There were far too many snarky ah-ha moments for the film to be true to life. These typical film plot points are cute or fun in many cases, but when trying to do a war drama that doubles as a semi-autobiographical film in the last half hour these moments rip audiences out of the movie and shake them awake for thinking the performances on the screen are real.

The Imitation Game is fine. It’s an average movie with an average rating. This review may seem more scathing than average but the context should be taken into consideration. This film has already won numerous awards and will continue to do so just because of the scroll before the credits in the last three minutes. It isn’t bad, it isn’t good. It is typical in every way.

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Adam’s Verdict 2.5/5