It is 1951. Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is being questioned by police after a break-in at his home. Nothing was taken, which raised some red flags. During the questioning, Turing recounts the story of his days during World War II.
Alan loved solving puzzles. As a teenager, a friend gave him a book on cracking codes. It was right up Alan’s alley. When the British were getting bombed by the Nazis, the British army began searching for people who could crack the mystery of the Nazi’s Enigma machine, used to encode all their messages. If they could decode the German messages, they could end the war sooner, saving countless lives.
Alan was hired by the reluctant Commander Alastair Dennison (Charles Dance) to work at Bletchley Park, the headquarters for the team working to decode the Enigma machine. Alan wasted no time making waves. Rather than working with his teammates, he sat alone in a corner. Instead, he worked on plans to build a machine that could potentially crack the codes, which were changed daily. After his request for funding was denied, he wrote to Winston Churchill about his machine. Alan was then placed in charge of the team. He immediately fired team members he deemed worthless and brought on new members, including Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley).
As Alan continued work on his machine, his teammates became more frustrated. With the British military ready to shut him down, Alan asks for a little more time to get results.
Going into this movie, I had heard of Alan Turing, but knew little more than the fact that he had something to do with code breaking. I had no idea that he was basically the father of the modern computer.
Benedict Cumberbatch was a great choice to play Alan Turing. He is able to perfectly convey the awkward genius that is presented in the movie. It is one of those performances that draws you in and doesn’t let you go until the end. To say the rest of the cast is replaceable may not be fair to the folks playing the other roles. But, this is a film about the life of Alan Turing. Benedict rightfully steals the focus of the film.
Aside from Benedict’s performance, it is really an interesting story. I’m assuming most people, like me, had only heard of Turing, and don’t know his story. Yes, I’m sure there were some creative liberties taken, but I would guess that a fair amount of the tale is true. Turing’s invention not only saved countless lives, but most definitely helped the Allies defeat the Nazis sooner than they likely would have, if Turing had not been hired by the British military.
In my opinion, The Imitation Game is definitely one of the frontrunners for awards this year, both for the movie itself, and for Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance. This is one of the “true story” movies that is well presented and worth watching.