Benedict Cumberbatch is quickly becoming one of the most popular and supremely talented actors of his generation. That expertise of his craft is illustrated profusely throughout The Imitation Game, and is a performance that will undoubtedly result in Cumberbatch’s first Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
Cumberbatch is Alan Turing, the man credited with cracking the German Enigma code that would eventually lead to the Allies winning World War II. You also learn watching The Imitation Game that he is the father of what will become the modern computer.
That is why it is so tragic that what happened to Turing was his complete and utter personal destruction when he was arrested for indecency for engaging in homosexual acts years after the war ended.
As teased in The Imitation Game trailer, we meet Turing as he is “interviewing” for a job with the British defense. World War II has taken its toll on his country and his lack of respect for the uniform is off-putting to his potential superior, Commander Denniston (Charles Dance). But, his incredible brilliance and supreme confidence in his ability as a mathematician -- when brilliant minds are so needed to crack the Enigma code -- forces Denniston to offer him the job and surround him with a team.
Of course, he then believes that the team is holding him back, except for a few stand-outs, including a woman who had to fight dearly to even be considered because of her gender, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley).
Together they will all learn to work together because there is a bigger picture fight at hand, expertly laid out by director Morten Tyldum from the screenplay by Graham Moore (based on the book by Andrew Hodges).
Although much of the story focuses on this team of brilliant minds (especially Turing) and the effort they are undertaking to crack this code and be able to stop the Nazi advance that at this rate, will take over all of Europe, and likely the world -- Tyldum shows us why the work they are doing is so important with the prolific death and destruction that is this war.
What else Tyldum does that is so masterful is he manages to make something so thrilling and breathtaking that could be so mundane. Mathematics and the basics of computer science don’t usually add up to plot points that make up the chemistry of a thriller. But in The Imitation Game it absolutely thrills. There is a race against time aspect to this film that you can literally feel the clock ticking. This team has to achieve their goal or hundreds of thousands of lives and freedom itself will be lost.
And yet The Imitation Game is also quite personal. It is a human story about love, working with people of varied backgrounds towards a shared goal and most of all it explores the very nature of what makes us human.
Cumberbatch is a force of nature. He has held us spellbound in countless movies, most recently when you watch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug online. But, this is his moment and he gives it his all and then some. Matching him in that effort is Knightley. She too will likely hear her name as an Oscar nominee when they are announced. Her character has many of the same challenges as Turing and their friendship and, yes, love, is the very heartbeat of this film.
Our The Imitation Game review cannot recommend this film enough. It is easily one of the best of 2014 and the cinematic collective that is Tyldum’s work will also likely be given the title Best Picture nominee.
Lastly, watching this film makes us think on a supremely larger scale.
It makes us wonder how many brilliant minds over the course of human history were persecuted for their beliefs, their sexuality, their looks, their intellect or any number of reasons. And how many of those wound up being pushed out of what they love and even perished due to the persecution?
Can you imagine where we would be as a society if they had not lived their lives in shadows or in fear, but had the freedom to be who they were born to be and everything that that means?
The world would be a much better and enriching place.
Watch Star Trek Into Darkness online for another fantastic performance by Cumberbatch.