Thursday Night Movie Club
The Imitation Game
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Release Date: 25 December 2014

Director: Morten Tyldum
Benedict Cumberbatch
Keira Knightley
Matthew Goode
Rory Kinnear
Allen Leech
Matthew Beard
Charles Dance
Mark Strong
James Northcote
Tom Goodman-Hill
Steven Waddington
Ilan Goodman
Jack Tarlton
Alex Lawther
Jack Bannon
Alan Turing
Joan Clarke
Hugh Alexander
Detective Robert Nock
John Cairncross
Peter Hilton
Commander Denniston
Stewart Menzies
Jack Good
Sergeant Staehl
Superintendent Smith
Keith Furman
Charles Richards
Young Alan Turing
Christopher Morcom
The Imitation Game movie poster The Imitation Game movie poster The Imitation Game movie poster
Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game"Sometimes its the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine." This is the philosophy of noted cryptographer Alan Turing, who along with a team of fellow noted cryptographers and linguists, broke the infamous unbreakable code, named Enigma, used by the Germans during World War II.

The Imitation Game re-enacts the three most important phases in the short life of a brilliant man. During his formative years in boarding school, he was bullied for being "different". During World War II, Turing applies for a secret position but knows all about the project. As a professor after the war, a break in at his flat leads a detective to open an investigation.

All great minds throughout history are probably a bit odd as viewed by the rest of the "normal" people. Turing made history by discovering the most important secret of his time. Since his work was top secret, no one knew what he accomplished. At the same time, he had to keep secret all of the secrets he uncovered. Turing also kept his most important personal secret hidden from everyone until unforeseen circumstances have tragic, unintended results.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation GameThe Imitation Game focuses almost exclusively on Alan Turing. A very strong, skilled actor is required. Benedict Cumberbatch is amazing. Cumberbatch has that singular voice and masterful delivery of lines that fans of the BBC series "Sherlock" know and love.

In this performance, Cumberbatch uses everything in his arsenal that he used to create Sherlock Holmes and turns it sideways. Alan Turing is a self-centered bastard who knows he is better than everyone else on the planet. He is a man every man loves to hate! ...and deservedly so.

The Imitation Game begins with a mesmerizing monologue from Cumberbatch telling an, as yet, unknown man to listen carefully or you might miss something important. He will only say things once. He will not be interrupted. A fair warning! Cumberbatch sucks in the audience from the start and never lets go of their attention. The audience likes and respects Alan Turing.

Cut to the beginning stages of World War II. Turing is headed to Bletchley where all the top secret information is gathered and processed. Turing is interviewed by Commander Denniston (a wonderful performance from Charles Dance). Turing is a conceited jackass. Five minutes with him and it is a wonder Denniston didn't throw Turing through the window.

The interview ends. Turing is dismissed, yet he keeps on babbling in his nerve-grating manner. "Enigma", Turing calmly says, and Denniston's heart stops, after it leapt into his throat. "How do you know about Enigma?" Turing's calm reply is "I like solving puzzles and Enigma is the greatest puzzle ever invented."

The Imitation GameMany aspects of Turing's personality are revealed in the first few scenes. Turing is a cocky son-of-a-bitch who doesn't play well with others. He is brilliant. He knows about Enigma's existence when he shouldn't know anything about it. He knows no one has broken the Enigma code or he wouldn't be there. The code is unbreakable. "Let me try and then we will know." Cumberbatch nails this line. His delivery is terse, matter-of-fact. Denniston has no choice but to hire Turing. Turing may be a right, smart bastard, but he makes a point.

Another aspect of Turing's personality emerges once he begins working with his team members. One member tells Turing they are going to lunch. Turing replies, "Yes." After repeated attempts, the co-worker realizes Turing doesn't understand him. "Would you like to join us for lunch?", he asks. "No thank you.", Turing replies. Turing may be a bastard, but he is a gentleman, polite and respectful.

The Imitation GameThe Imitation Game then switches to Turing's days at boarding school where he is set upon by bullies. He learns an important lesson. The only way to fight back is to outsmart the brutes. He does nothing. The bullies get bored and leave. The bullying stops because it is no longer fun. Turing won't give them the satisfaction.

Young Turing (Alex Lawther) discusses his problems with his best friend Christopher (Jack Bannon). Turing is bullied because he is different. His being different is what makes him special.

Young Turing is also fascinated and bewildered by human verbal communication. He hears people talking but he doesn't understand the subtleties of the communications. To him, people are talking in code. For example, Turing would be confused by the phrase "put on your shoes and socks." To him, it would be silly to put your shoes on first.

Alex Lawther as young Alan Turing in The Imitation GameChristopher helps Turing by giving him a book on codes, how to create codes and how to decipher codes. The book changes Turing's life.

Back in wartime, Turing works alone. While his coworkers are busy trying to break the Enigma code using conventional methods, Turing has a remarkable theory. Only a machine can defeat a machine. He begins building a device that can think faster than a human being.

After months of work with no results, Commander Denniston is ready to fire Turing, destroy his confounded machine and start anew. Denniston is stopped short by Turing's coworkers Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (Allen Leech), and Peter Hilton(Matthew Beard). Despite hating Turing's guts, Alexander knows Turing is right. His machine is the only way to defeat Enigma.

Turing learns another lesson. This one concerns sexism. He knows he needs more minds working on his project. He cleverly writes a crossword puzzle. Anyone who solves the puzzle in under 20 minutes will be invited to join a special war effort.

Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke in The Imitation GameThose who solve the puzzle are invited to Bletchley to solve another problem of Turing's invention. Into the room and his life enters Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley). Clarke is upset because she won't be granted entry to the room. Turing intervenes, mainly because the commotion is an interruption that he cannot tolerate.

Turing solved his own problem in eight minutes. He gives the puzzle solvers six minutes. Clarke solves the puzzle in five. Turing is very impressed. He hires Clarke immediately only to learn he cannot hire her because she is a woman. To Turing, this makes no sense.

Knightley is excellent portraying Clarke's growing frustration with her situation in life. Clarke is twenty five and single. She "should" be married. Until Clarke is married, she "belongs" under her father's roof. Clarke finally has the chance to spread her wings, to showcase her abilities only to be stone-walled by sexism.

Keira Knightley gives a stunning performance. She is fiery and combative in some scenes, friendly and kind in other scenes. Clarke teasingly gives Turing lesson's in human communication. Alan's continued bewilderment ultimately leads to breaking the Enigma code.

The Imitation GameThe scene in which Enigma is broken is the show-stopper in The Imitation Game. While in a dance hall, Alexander is telling Turing how Clarke's friend Helen (Tuppence Middleton) is interested in him. Helen is telling Clarke that she knows Alexander is interested in her.

The four people begin talking which further confuses Turing until Helen mentions she reads to intercepted coded messages from a German. Being a bit of a romantic, Helen imagines (reads between the lines) the German is sending coded messages to a woman. Turing wonders how she knows this. Helen says the German starts each message the same way.

Light bulbs go on and gears mesh not only for Turing but his coworkers as well as Clarke. Turing's machine works. It just doesn't know what it is searching for. The machine needs to be programmed.

Turing faces another major dilemma once the code is broken. Only he understands the enormity of what they have achieved. By deciphering the codes, Turing's team realizes German U-boats are going to attack a supply convoy in the North Atlantic. They cannot intervene. The Germans cannot know the Enigma code has been broken. They will simply modify the device and the British will be back at square one.

Keira Knightley, Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation GameWorld War II no longer becomes a battle of armies fighting each other. The war effort becomes an enormous undertaking of gathering intelligence, disseminating the evidence, and then carefully "leaking" the evidence to the "right" people. Only through subtlety can the Germans be defeated. The Germans can never, ever know, that Enigma has been broken!

Keeping secrets has a terrible price for Turing. After the war, his life slowly denigrates into madness. Turing is a professor. In his spare time, he spends hours rebuilding his machine trying to improve on his original design. Turing has fallen into a mental abyss. He can't talk about his personal secret. He can't talk about Enigma. Then, a simple break-in and his life spirals out of control.

Detective Robert Nock (Rory Kinnear) investigates the break-in. He finds Turing dismissive. Nock is suspicious. Why wouldn't Turing want the break-in investigated. Is he hiding something? While everyone tells Nock to let Turing be, he has an itch. He has to know what Turing is hiding.

Nock's investigation turns up nothing... absolutely nothing! Nock cannot find any information on Turing. Turing's war record reveals a file folder with nothing inside. The lack of information on Turing makes Nock increasingly suspicious. Nothing makes sense. Maybe Turing is a spy.

To his everlasting dismay, Nock discovers the big secret. If Turing were a spy, that would be understandable. But things are much worse. Turing is gay in an age where gay men are sent to prison for their crime. Nock's discovery ruins Turing.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley in The Imitation GameBenedict Cumberbatch shines again in the final scene, a terrifying portrayal as madness overtakes Alan Turing. Cumberbatch rambles on incoherently while his emotions change from calm to rage to frustration to confusion. Knightley is wonderful as Joan Clarke desperately tries to calm Turing and focus his mind on rational thought.

Clarke is successful...this time. The end for Alan Turing is inevitable.

The Imitation Game is a tour-de-force performance from Benedict Cumberbatch. The film focuses on the life of Alan Turing. Cumberbatch carries the film from start to finish. Cumberbatch is phenomenal depicting the complex life of a brilliant man haunted by secrets and a past he cannot escape.