Ben Oliver

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The Imitation Game

Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.
01 April 2015

The story of WWII code-breaker Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his mission to break the Enigma machine.

One can’t help but draw parallels to The Theory of Everything, another Oscar nominated biopic about a genius. The Imitation Game is more competently made than the former, albeit less artsy.

It’s a neat retelling of a compelling tale. Turing laid the groundwork for what we now know as computers, driven by the need to solve a German cipher thought impossible to crack. The ability to decipher all Nazi communications as well as Turing’s care not to reveal his discovery played a huge part in winning the war. A spectre looms over the whole story; Turing is a homosexual, a trait deemed illegal at the time and one that eventually leads to his suicide.

It’s a surprise to see the usually reliable Cumberbatch overcook it somewhat, but he does seem to be trying a little too hard. The script is working against him in this regard, Turing comes across as a bit of a nerdy cliché. Keira Knightley plays his colleague Joan Clarke, she’s not the most versatile actress but she knows what she’s doing and winds up with a more subtle, interesting performance than Cumberbatch.

The Imitation Game lacks any reason for me to recommend it. It’s not boring but it’s not riveting, it’s not trying anything new, it’s not that well written but it’s watchable. ‘Competent’ is the perfect word for it, good but not great. Like a Turing machine, it gives us answers to questions we may have but it lacks soul.