73%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)
85%

Despite its many intriguing storylines, The Imitation Game falls flat.

The story of Alan Turing is curious to say the least.  Being the genius mathematician behind cracking the ostensibly unbreakable Enigma code used by the Nazis, one would think this man’s name would echo in the halls of history as a hero.  However, tortured by society due to his oddities and inability to live his life as a homosexual in England at the time, Turing’s fate ended far from exaltedness.  Unfortunately for viewers, “The Imitation Game” fails to approach its subject matter with same courage as its protagonist did toward his mission.

Like many films from this year’s awards season, The Imitation Game places trust in its actors and is saved by this alone.  Similar to American Sniper and The Theory of Everything, the film’s narrative bobs and weaves between separate themes too often to illicit any strong emotions.  With a plot that could evoke sadness, rage and pride, the film by Mortem Tyldum feels like it has been cut down and trimmed to appeal to one demographic – the Academy.  World War II, England and the all-star cast are exactly what the Oscars salivate over, and with eight nominations, this film achieved its goal. But the script lacks direction and a thesis.  It struggles with what it wants to tell – Turing’s story, or the breaking of the Enigma code.  Throughout this tug of war between narratives, there are flashbacks and flash-forwards that serve as major speed bumps to any payoff that has been building in previous scenes.  Many films this year have been too long, but The Imitation Game would have, arguably, been better with thirty more minutes to play with.

The acting is what stands out in The Imitation Game.  Benedict Cumberbatch gives a phenomenal performance as Alan Turing, however, one would like to see the actor play someone who isn’t the smartest person in the room for once.  Cumberbatch’s mannerisms and delivery show the depths of Turing’s withdrawal from society – not only derived from homosexuality being illegal in England at the time.  Keira Knightley puts in a splashy performance as Turing’s friend and wife, Joan Clarke, although the role is extremely small – far too small considering how well the two actors play off each other.  This is where more time would have been appreciated.

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We are all reading this on a computer and Turing created one to solve what was then unsolvable.  His genius and his recognition of that within himself is evident from the get go and Cumberbatch leaves no doubt in viewer’s mind of this fact.  Necessity is the mother of invention, but this invention did far more than save lives during the world’s darkest hour.

The Imitation Game is a good film, but hardly anything breathtaking.  It is directed well by Tyldum and the acting is executed to perfection, but again, the script cannot decide what story it wants to tell.  World War II, the Enigma Code, and genius mathematician?  That’s one compelling story.  The father of computer science who is punished by the state for being homosexual in a time when it was illegal?  Again, a very interesting plot.  The two together?  You’d think it had the potential to be the best of the year.  And with these actors it did, but the lack of focus holds it back.

About The Author

Nate Davis

Nate Davis is the managing editor for Filmtakeout. Along with overseeing the content that gets posted on the site, Nate contributes a weekly column and review. Nate graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Journalism and Cinema. He worked for the University of Iowa's Center for Media Production as an intern, production assistant and writer. Nate also writes for a website devoted to covering soccer, and has a blog that includes all his work.