One word makes The Imitation Game the solid film that it is. That word is cast. It would be biased of me to say that the UK produces an unhealthy amount of incredible actors. But I’ll say it anyway. Cumberbatch does seem to have a penchant for playing real people: Stephen Hawking, Van Gogh, Julian Assange and now the little known Alan Turing. Though not little known for long.
Born in 1912, Turing was a Cambridge mathematician with a bit of a thing for cryptography. Well, I say ‘thing’ – it was more of a prodigal ability beyond most of the world’s intelligentsia. But his ‘thing’, his hobby, ended World War Two, a fact that was only revealed to the public 50 years later. The enigma code was created by the Germans as a way of sending messages in a jumbled formation. These communications were easily picked up, but jibberish to the ordinary person. To break this code was to break the German’s security, learning their plans and attacks before they were even carried out.
It’s fair to praise all the big, super famous actors for their performances – I’ve done it myself; I do have a soft spot for Matthew Goode – but it was Alex Lawther that stood out for me. As young Turing, I wanted more of him on the screen. His autistic mannerisms are so perfectly executed, like an actor far beyond his nineteen years.
The crafting of the film was fairly straightforward, the polar opposite of what must have been going on inside Turing’s head. It would have been nice to have an element of chaos, building up the intensity that the code must have been generating. It was all very nice, very flowing, very simple? But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a wonderful film, an enjoyable and entertaining film. It is actually very funny in places. An early scene between Turing and to-the-point government official Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) is laugh out loud stuff; Turing seems to stock all his intelligence in his mathematical ability, and not his interactions with others. He has, how can it be said, a barrier to sarcasm. Cue hilarious exchanges between the joker and the joked.
Alan Turing sparked something life changing in his discovery, something the world, for multiple reasons, would not have known the impact of for many years. His story should be taught in history classes. His impression on the world should be recognised. This film is, hopefully, just the start. The code wasn’t the enigma. He was.