That name evokes a lot of imagery. Intensity, aloofness, clipped vowels.
That name has come to mean a lot more in the years since WW2, knowing as we do now his pivotal role in creating a calculating engine, a computer, to crack the Nazi Enigma code and assist the Allies in wining the war.
The Imitation Game throws the two together, Cumberbatch bringing all of his evocations to the mathematical genius that was Turing, and together they make a gripping and ultimately tragic figure.
The cast list for this film is as impressive as you would imagine, with Keira Knightly and her almighty jaw playing Alan’s love interest, Mark Strong the cool head of British Intelligence and the always magnificent Charles Dance channelling his inner Tyrion Lannister and reducing most men to quivering wrecks under his icy blue gaze.
For me, the film lost quite a bit when Dance’s Commander disappears from the film, as the story goes past the initial attempts to create the machine that would crack the Nazi code to the results of that incredible feat and its impact on the course of the war. The film too is more interested in telling the tale leading up to the remarkable invention, though Turing’s formative and final years are also revealed in between all the stiff upper lip World War Two action.
The performances aside, the story itself is told in a fairly predictable and unimaginative way. Its all done very well of course, its just that the usual conflicts arrive at the usual time with the usual coincidences which might or might not have been true (mainly with the minor characters; I imagine the major ones were kept pretty faithful to the reality). Its all kept above the mediocre by those performances and the truly interesting story of the Turing and what happened to him before, after and during the War.
The real shame comes at the end credits when all the “and what happened next” comes up and so much is left unsaid: what happened to some of the other characters on Turing’s team? What happened to the policemen who were investigating him? Why was Turing honoured only just before the film was made? A film that sheds such light on such an incredible man leaves so many other questions unanswered, though the packed Readings Cinema crowd with whom I shared the experience didn’t really seem to care.
Verdict: The Imitation Game has its ups and downs and the goes down even lower as Turing “wins” the war and then loses the battle. It’s another great Cumberbatch performance, and the rest of the cast are amazing too, bringing a lot more grip to an otherwise middling film about a fascinating person. 7 Christophers out of 10.