Writers: Graham Moore (screenplay), Andrew Hodges (book)
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong
Release date: November 14th, 2014
Distributors: StudioCanal, The Weinstein Company
Countries: UK, USA
Running time: 114 minutes
Best part: The charming performances.
Worst part: The last 15-20 minutes.
Mathematician, logician, computer scientist, cryptanalyst. Worthy of this Tony Stark-esque description, one aspiring man one undertook these phenomenal professions simultaneously. The man, subject of front-running Oscar contender The Imitation Game, is one of history’s bravest and most inspirational people. In fact, his momentous inventions and experiments have paved the way for some of modern civilisation’s most valuable technological advancements.
Benedict Cumberbatch & Charles Dance.
Beyond the positives, The Imitation Gamepresents key World War II figure Alan Turing’s life as a battle between arrogance and modesty. Early on, after his introduction into British Intelligence’s darkest depths, the game-changing scientist compares himself to Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. Refusing to promote his sterling accomplishments, the twenty-something compliments the aforementioned geniuses for making momentous strides at younger ages. From there, this spy-drama depicts his momentous journey. The movie, despite the premise, starts off in a different part of his life. In 1951, after examining a suspicious robbery at Turing(Benedict Cumberbatch)’s Manchester abode, the lead investigator, Detective Nock (Rory Kinnear), seeks to learn more about him. Unexpectedly, his mission kickstarts a baffling chain of events. During an interrogation, Turing relays his life story. Jumping back to WWII, the movie then kick-starts its central plot-line. Turing – transported to top-secret Government Code and Cypher School, Bletchley Park – butts heads with Alastair Denniston (Charles Dance). Adjusting to the experience, the aspirational yet anti-social brainiac grates against fellow academics including Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Carincross (Allen Leech), and Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard). Enlisting British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s support, our team sets out to crack Nazi Germany’s notorious Enigma Code with Turing’s £100,000 code-deciphering machine.
The Imitation Game‘s convoluted premise appears tiresome and confusing. Largely ignored by the public, average film-goers might skip it in favour of Channing Tatum’s latest psychological-thriller (Foxcatcher) or Tim Burton’s latest visual splendour (Big Eyes). With said big names vying for our attention, the movie may only resonate with a select few. However, the movie charts one of modern history’s greatest stories. The central plot-line – pitting Turing against colleagues, higher-ups, underrated newcomer Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), and MI6 representative Maj. Gen. Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) – clicks like Turing’s inventions. Inspired heavily by The Social Network and A Beautiful Mind, this plot-line delivers a fun assortment of pithy dialogue, intricate flourishes, and Oscar-calibre moments. As the clock ticks down, this story-thread simmers over the proverbial fires of war. Uncovering a web of conspiracy and degradation, this small-scale thriller discusses modern political and technological issues. With freedom at stake, this docudrama places us in Turing’s blockish shoes. As battles rage on across the channel, the ego-driven feuds become increasingly more interesting. Punctuated by dynamic turns from the enthralling cast, certain scenes summarise the story’s immense worth. Unfortunately, director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) and screenwriter Graham Moore don’t trust in this plot-line. Interested more so in politics than action, our filmmaker and writer craft a meaningful tale about code-breakers and desk jockeys. However, narrative’s gear-churning shifts distort the pacing and tension. Hindering the touching personal moments, its non-linear structure lessens the impact.
“Sometimes, it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” (Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), The Imitation Game).
Our code-cracking team.
Jumping between this story-line, the ’51 investigation, and Turing’s childhood, screen-time is needlessly confiscated from vital moments. Adding little to The Imitation Game‘s narrative, two of said plot-lines merely lessen the impact. Delivering corny dialogue and heavy-handed symbolism, the boarding school sequences become major distractions. Despite the magnetic first-two thirds, the last act speeds through plot-points, historical moments, and revelations similarly to Turing code-breaking process. Skimming over thematically resonant moments, the movie relies too much on its last few scenes and closing inter-titles. The underlying conflict, concerning Turing’s sexual orientation, is scarcely commented on. Thanks to its simple-minded liberal message, it becomes a King’s Speech-esque Oscar-baiter. Despite the issues, it combines Britain’s brightest talents to achieve a commendable vision. Separating the movie’s three time periods, Maria Djurkovic’s production design paints a haunting picture of the era. Capturing Tyldum’s attention to detail, each shot houses a rich representation of WWII England. In addition, Alexandre Desplat’s score delivers emotional weight throughout. In addition, Cumberbatch’s performance and Turing’s arc are worth the admission cost. Being one of the movie’s many skinny, Lizard-like cast members, the British actor – in his first scene with Dance – establishes himself as one of cinema’s most alluring talents. Strong, Knightley, Goode, and Dance deliver nuanced turns in compelling roles.
Turing, whose public backlash and conviction for gross indecency led to his suicide at 41, proved one person, against all odds, can make a difference. Like our inquisitive and socially awkward subject, The Imitation Game cracks the vital codes and pushes the right buttons to achieve significant results. Despite the typical Weinstein Company production issues, this historical-drama places its circuit boards and wires together in an effective sequence.
Works: The Dark Knight trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises), Memento, Following, Insomnia, The Prestige, Inception
Christopher Nolan throughout his career has tirelessly worked to re-create the idea of authorship. His modern and expansive cinematic scope in every frame has proven his worth as one of the most influential and popular directors in modern cinema. Nolan, along with his brother and writing partner Jonathan, continually strive to break the bonds of modern Hollywood cinema, with The Dark Knight and Inception instantly considered to be modern masterpieces. His unique abilities with cinematography and stunt sequences prove the existence of artistic vision within modern action cinema.
In his interpretation of the Batman legend, his penchant for creating an aura of realism out of fantastical elements has created a gritty, terrifying yet culturally relevant depiction of a famously fantastical character. Nolan’s control over his works is proven in his militarised origin story and development of believable cult figures. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight have taken Bruce Wayne, an arrogant yet determined warrior, and built him into a cunning, fearless and selfless saviour of Gotham. Batman’s universe (dubbed the ’Nolanverse’ due to his intelligent style) is a gravely sombre yet recognisable scene of post 9/11 threats and heroes developing a desire to protect those to need them. Nolan Creates a realistic universe out of beautiful yet haunting locations such as the maze-like structure of Chicago city streets, intricate photo realistic sets and alluring perspective tricks through miniature cityscapes.
Nolan on set (The Dark Knight trilogy).
His use of realism in film-making has created an authenticity rarely seen in the era of digital/blue- screen technology. Creating action set pieces through stunt work and elaborate, story-boarded set pieces, the creation of sequences such as the rotating hotel ceiling fight in Inception and the truck chase/flip through Gotham streets in The Dark Knight are developed with a seamless visceral quality not explored since the renaissance of practical effects in the 1960’s/70’s/80’s with gripping formalist cinema such Alien/Aliens, The Terminator, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Fly. His maze-like structures and other symbolic/visual elements reflect the intricacies of his eye for ground-breaking elements of film production. The idea of several layers inside the subconscious mind is an intricate and stylish concept explored through heist, film noir and chase film elements. The art-deco style created in each layer of Nolan’s visual splendour involves a strict use of smooth colour patterns/tones, symmetry and the composition of important symbolic foreground and background elements; creating multiple dimensions through the intricacies of multi-layered city streets and skyscrapers.
Trademarks: Epic scopes, writes with brother Jonathan Nolan, recurring cast members, non-linear timelines
Nolan & Christian Bale (The Prestige).
His use of symbolism to illustrate an important and original narrative structure can be seen in his first studio feature Memento, a thought-provoking thriller executed with complexity and based on Jonathan Nolan’s short story. Photographs and tattoos, illustrating Guy Pearce’s path through a decaying life of short term amnesia, symbolise his determination in tracing his forgotten steps, hoping to find his wife’s murderer. Whether it’s one man battling the villainy of a post 9/11 criminal world, Leo DiCaprio struggling to expel his love from professional duties inside his fractured subconscious, Al Pacino’s erratic mind due to his condition in Insomnia and an attraction to stalking people on the street in Following, Nolan uses his expansive scope to illustrate the gravity of his characters’ disturbed situations. His non-linear storytelling and cross-cutting create a contrast between multiple realities and the conflicting subconscious; illustrated by the rivalry between Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman in The Prestige, building throughout this story of the dangerously competitive nature of human beings.
Thematic, visual and symbolic relevance in film and popular culture has classified Nolan as one of the defying film-makers of this generation. Whether its the electrifying illusion of the transported man, a slowly developing superhero/vigilante origin story or Heath Ledger’s Oscar worthy portrayal of the Joker, Nolan has given birth to many authentic and thought provoking examples of ingenuity in modern cinema.