The Imitation Game is set during World War II and it tells the true story of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a British mathematician who's hired by MI6 to help crack an unbreakable nazi code, which will allow the British to read all messages sent by the nazis, allowing them to win the war. After a rocky start, Turing begins working on two things. The first is to hire new staff, one of whom is a female, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), which was considered unusual at the time. The second thing he does is begin working on a machine, a machine he likes to call Christopher, that will automatically break the code within minutes. The only problem is that nobody else can see his vision.
As I stated in my Top 25 Films of the Year list (here), The Imitation Game is miraculous. The true story itself is a little known tale, but wow, it is quite an extraordinary one. As it is with all fact based films, there's always the worry that the film may disrespect the true story, or that it may not quite follow through with all the facts. From as far as I could tell, The Imitation Game does the true story justice. No, it does more than that. This film is two hours of respect towards a war hero that goes unheard of by most. It's a film that appreciates what Turing did for the world, and this shows. It doesn't show him as a flawless man, as he wasn't, but it does look up to him, in the most anti-biased way possible of course.
To look up to him in the way that they do, they require him to be played well. I've been a Cumberbitch for a while, even though I am aware that he despises that name, and so I get excited for any movie that that man is in. Does he deliver with The Imitation Game? Does he ever. Benedict Cumberbatch is extravagant as Turing, giving the character layers no other actor could pull off. And in case it hasn't been said enough, the 2015 Oscar race is really heating up, but it seems that there may just be a new contender in the best actor category, and his name is Benedict.
His performance may top the film, but Keira Knightley doesn't deserve to go unmentioned either. Cumberbatch gives one of his best, if not the best performance to date, and as does Knightley. I do hear that she's amazing in her Oscar nominated role in Pride & Prejudice, but since I have not seen it, The Imitation Game slots in among her finest. Her performance is just so brilliant and fluent, giving every line the dedication needed to truly make the scene feel alive.
Since this movie is more of a biopic than a singular event movie, we're constantly given flash forwards and backwards in time. This is not a bad thing at all, if I gave off that impression. It's actually rather insightful, giving us even more reasons to feel connected to this character and to care for him. The film begins after the war, with Alan Turing seated for interrogation. This is how we're provided with every bit of information needed. He's constantly going back between the war and his childhood, narrating the journey as it goes. The childhood segments aren't nearly as interesting, but they're far from uninteresting too.
Interesting, sure, but they do go on for just a little too long. For the majority of them, they're fine. There didn't seem to be one unnecessary scene, or one that appeared to drag. Then we loose the childhood flashbacks for a while, making them appear to be over. With about fifteen minutes left in the movie, we're given one more. While the scene itself is rather upsetting and unexpected, it just came in at the wrong time. It didn't belong in the moment it was in. It felt off and it interrupted the pacing just a bit, but hey, if that's my only complaint then you could say I'm incredibly pleased with the movie at hand.
To sum up, The Imitation Game is a must see biopic, and one of the best films currently playing in cinemas. It's a miraculous fact based movie, led by career highlighting performances from Cumberbatch and Knightley.
4 1/2 Stars