Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
With a large crop of Oscar-worthy films out this year, it’s inevitable that some excellent ones are going to get swept under the rug. Earlier in the year films like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, and A Most Wanted Man made splashes. Later, it would be Birdman, Whiplash, Gone Girl, The Theory of Everything, and Interstellar that would impress. Then, around Christmas, we were walloped with Unbroken, Into the Woods, Selma, Foxcatcher, American Sniper, and A Most Violent Year. There are just too many well-crafted movies; some just won’t make the cut. The Imitation Game might be the one that fits that bill most, a great film that just misses the nominations it probably deserves.
Kept a government secret for around 50 years, this is the story of how the British won the war against Nazi Germany. WWII wages on, with Hitler’s troops advancing across Europe and England under heavy bombardment seemingly every day. The Nazi’s use a secret code called Enigma to hide all their military messages in plain sight, changing the secret translator every day, keeping the Allies from decoding anything that might save the lives of their troops. With Britain slowly losing the war, the government turns to mathematicians, hoping beyond hope that a crack team might be able to break the unbreakable Nazi code. Led by genius Alan Turing, a secret operation is launched, with the fate of the free world in their hands.
I’ll admit it; I didn’t know this story. I enjoy history, WWII, I know the battles, I know the teams, but I didn’t know what an enormous impact Alan Turing had on the war. Well, it was a secret for many years after all, an under-the-table operation if ever there was one. But it was just so important, so pivotal to the fate & duration of the war. It’s not exactly exciting though, not in the way Normandy was, or tanks rolling across Germany, or Holocaust stories. Those have more emotion built in and make for good books & movies. This is more of a biography, but of a man who literally changed history. For history buffs who also like the behind-the-scenes information, this is a must see.
And its high quality makes The Imitation Game a solid film as well, one that should be considered one of the best of the year. Like The Theory of Everything, here is a story about one of the most influential men in Britain’s modern history, a tale of individual accomplishment in the face of great odds. But I feel, sadly, that this film will fall just short of greatness, especially when compared side by side with others. Cumberbatch was excellent, but not quite as impressive as Eddie Redmayne. Knightley was strong, but not quite as wonderful as Felicity Jones. The movie as a whole was a great capturing of history, but again, not quite as perfectly done as other films that shone this year.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆