Sorry that this review took me so long (Almost a month after The Imitation Game‘s wide release, to be exact), but I’ve been super busy with school, what with there being diplomas and midterms to write, and I had to take some time to write about the Oscar ballot, which was…Something else, to say the least.
For all the movies that got screwed over (Selma, The LEGO Movie, Nightcrawler), the Academy did do justice to some of the nominees, and one of the movies that got its just desserts is The Imitation Game, which ended up with eight nominations. Especially poignant considering both the new age in technology and the turning point in the LGBT rights movement that we’re currently experiencing right now.
The Imitation Game
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Produced by: Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman
Written by: Graham Moore
Genre: Thriller, historical drama
Based on: Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Rory Kinnear
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Plot: World War II is in full swing, and, unfortunately, the good guys are kinda getting their asses kicked by the Nazis. Thanks to a highly sophisticated encryption code known as Enigma, the Germans are getting encrypted messages through to one another right under the Allies’ noses. Tired of the Nazis’ shit, the British recruit top scholars, mathematicians, linguists and such in order to try to break the cursed code. One of the mathematicians recruited by Her Majesty’s Secret Service Or Whatever is Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant man, but also an arrogant, antisocial one, who has to juggle his service to the government with his closeted homosexuality.
“Big deal!” You might say. “Gay people get married all the time today! We love gay people! Why should he fear the government?”
You might say that. If you didn’t know that back in those days in Britain, homosexual activity could be punished with jail time or chemical castration. Not exactly the most accepting environment to Come Out to.
Does Turing and his team decipher the Enigma code? Does Turing’s homosexuality land him in deep trouble with the homophobic British government? WILL THE WORLD FALL UNDER THE THUMB OF HITLER AND HIS JACKBOOTED NAZI THUGS!??!
I know you guys can’t tell, but I just typed 700 words after this point, and then pressed a button by accident and it’s all gone now. This is why I drink. And also why backups are a good idea.
I had a whole rant about how people don’t pay Alan Turing enough respect nowadays, and how instrumental he was in shaping modern society the way he did through his technology (Helping to beat the Nazis, forming the basis for computers and such), but no way I’m retyping it. Watch this movie, and do a little research, and gain a little appreciation for the tragic genius of Alan Turing. And hey, who better to portray the guy then the man who has entranced Sherlock fanboys and fangirls the world over with his charisma and voice of James Earl Jones proportions of awesomeness?
I have a natural disdain for fanbases who give themselves cutesy names in order to give themselves an identity (Maybe Beliebers have just left a bad taste in my mouth), but I’ll be damned if I’m not a Cumberbitch at this point. The dude’s an amazing actor, and his performance in this movie is absolutely no exception. In a lesser year, he would be the frontrunner for the category, but in a year where Michael Keaton decided to resurface solely for the purpose of putting every other actor in the world to shame, Benedizzle Cumber….bizzle will have to settle for a nomination. Wow, I will never put an “izzle” at the end of anybody else’s name ever again.
So, Cumberbatch is great. Whatever, you already knew/assumed that. How do all the other actors do? Well, really quite well, actually. Charles Dance is fantastic as a total dick (Although not a historically accurate one, apparently), which one would expect from Tywin Lannister. Matthew Goode and Mark Strong both do real well as Turing’s rival on the team and a MI6 officer, but the supporting cast member who seems to be generating the most buzz is Pirates of the Caribbean alumni and Phantom Menace survivor Keira Knightley, who was also nominated for the supporting actress Oscar. And she does okay. Not badly, to be sure, she does a good job, but compared to the complex, layered portrayal that her co-star, Cumberbatch gives a complex, layered character, Knightley’s just seems a little bit nondescript, especially for a character as interesting as Joan Clarke. That said, I can see the Oscar nomination. Maybe it’s just the Oscar’s hard-on for historical movies, or a sign of the lack of good female roles in movies that there was last year, but I don’t have a hard time swallowing her nomination. I still would’ve preferred to see Emily Blunt for Edge of Tomorrow, though.
For that matter, I can’t really name anything that this movie does poorly, per se. It’s very well directed, it’s extremely well-written and paced, it didn’t feel boring as many historical dramas tend to feel once you hit the one hour mark, and you definitely feel the tension of the mission that the codebreakers feel throughout the movie. I mean, I obviously knew that the Allies won the war at the end, but I was still on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out how exactly they mean to break the code, and the personal life of Alan Turing is one replete with drama and tragedy that will leave you broken-hearted if you have any semblance of a heart. Or whichever part of your brain regulates sadness. I guess anybody has a semblance of a heart, or they’d be dead. It’s four in the morning right now you guys, I’m so goddamn tired.
I guess the only real flaw is that when you take the focus of the movie away from Cumberbatch (Which isn’t often, admittedly), it kind of becomes not so much the classic historical drama and LGBT Rights movie that it could become in the future and merely a very good movie. The supporting characters are just not that interesting when you take Turing out of the equation. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often at all, and not enough to detract from this movie’s credentials as one of the best films of 2014.
Overall: A pretty freaking great movie about a really freaking influential human being, The Imitation Game is… Really good you guys? I dunno, it’s five in the morning, I’m going to bed.