Movie Review: The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is a superbly acted but neatly assembled biopic that distorts the image of its subject to create a feel good Oscar bait film.

During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of ‘gross indecency’, an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality – little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine.

cue the totally coincidental Eureka moment

The Imitation Game is a perfect Hallmark movie. You’ve seen the underdog  narrative countless times but with a true-to-life story, this biopic has more gravitas than your run-in-the-mill feel good movie about an outcast.

The casting fits to a T. Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a great performance as the socially impaired math genius turned war hero Alan Turing. The veteran actors – Charles Dance and Mark Strong – manage to make memorable appearances despite being typecasted. The rest of the cryptographers – with handsome Matthew Goode – make for an endearing bunch of supporting characters despite limited screen time.

As a Hollywood adaptation by the Oscar bait factory Weinstein Company, changes are bound to be made. The problem is the film takes too much liberties with artistic license to create a marketable product, not an unbiased biopic.

Non-wikipedia sources will tell you that Alan Turing’s image is distorted to fit the film’s narrative, consequently turning him into a traitor. Characters are fabricated while others are neglected or thrown under the bus. The audience is not shown what they actually do in Bletchley Park. Most of the film is focused on Turing’s misfit genius routine except for the moments when characters need to look busy. It constantly tells us that he’s an eccentric that’s constantly misunderstood by the people around him. Until the climax of course when the runt of the litter becomes the leader of the pack.

In the end, The Imitation Game is a neatly wrapped up story of someone “who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine”. The plot is engrossing thanks to its actors, but moves to the predictable beats of every other story about misunderstood and under-appreciated geniuses.

The Imitation Game is inspirational, at times funny, and engaging. But overall its just another Hollywood product, in which someone casted Frankenstein in a British Beautiful Mind. If you really want to know about the complexities of Alan Turing you’re better off looking somewhere else. If you’re in the mood for an uncomplicated feel good movie, then it will be enough.

My Rating: 6/10

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