The Imitation Game (2014)


Moments before The Imitation Game‘s end credits begin to roll, a series of messages appear on the screen. They detail the importance of Alan Turing’s work – believed to have saved the lives of 14 million people – and the disgraceful manner in which he was treated by the British judicial system prior to his suicide in 1954. The purpose of these messages is to drive home quite how significant this man’s work was, with the injustices he suffered during his life appearing all the more abhorrent in comparison. Alan Turing should have been widely recognised for what he was – an incredibly intelligent and committed hero – rather than criminalised because of his sexuality, and the fact that such an inspirational figure could be treated in such a despicable manner simply for being gay is a humbling and deeply upsetting thought, especially when you think that this was commonplace in Britain until only a few short decades ago.

That said, what was also telling was that it was not until the final moments of this film that I really felt that I understood the gravity of Turing’s work and his subsequent treatment by the authorities. It drew into focus that the past two hours spent watching The Imitation Game had largely washed over me, with the calculated and formulaic impression the film constantly gave off blunting any real emotional impact it sought to have. There were no glaring obscenities when it came to the filmmaking, and for much of its runtime my attention was comfortably held, but at no point did it ever really grab me by the scruff of the neck and demand my gaze. In many ways, The Imitation Game felt like a rather televisual affair, plodding along from scene to scene at a steady pace whilst lacking in any real cinematic flair to make it anything other than ordinary. The final messages on screen do a good job of driving home quite how important a story Turing’s is, but film itself does so very poorly in contrast.

The film benefits from having a fascinating subject matter in which to present, with the attempts of Turing and his colleagues to decipher coded Nazi messages an incredibly fascinating tale born out of the Second World War. However, whilst the film will likely have you going straight to Wikipedia to read more about what happened upon its completion, as a piece of filmmaking it ultimately whets your appetite without satiating it nearly enough.The Imitation Game is a pleasant gateway into the subject for the uninitiated but when it comes to offering anything more than that, it struggles. The performances are solid across the board but still feel cartoonish at times, with this overplayed display of quasi-Britishness amongst the entire cast of characters feeling pretty grating as a native Englishman, with so many lines and interactions feeling like a bastardized Hollywood version of how British people speak, even if we sounded more “traditional” back in the 1940s and 50s. The dialogue featured in the screenplay and the manner in which it was delivered created a sense of inauthenticity that I couldn’t shake throughout the film and the end result was a rather detached viewing experience.

As stated earlier, The Imitation Game is not a film with any glaring errors or offensively bad moments that make it unwatchable, it just didn’t do justice to the hugely important story it wanted to tell. The way in which portrays Turing’s sexuality and treatment because of it felt somewhat danced over, and by-and-large far too many scenes in this movie felt like they were done in a paint-by-numbers fashion featuring lines that must have sounded better on paper than they did when spoken. As a starting point, the film does an okay job of offering a introductory look at Alan Turing’s life and the significance of his work, and as the subject matter is so interesting then it’s worth a watch for that alone, but if you really want to get a proper grasp of this story then you’re going to have to look elsewhere.


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