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With Jim Sabatini

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode, and Keira Knightley

Rated: PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: November 28, 2014 Released by: The Weinstein Company

A new textured, rather taut interpersonal drama featuring a stellar Benedict Cumberbatch (The Fifth Estate,Star Trek Into Darkness, as well as the concurrent Penguins of Madagascar and upcoming The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies) belies its deceptive intricate structure and is a rather involving biopic of a legendary genius of a cryptanalyst using the notion behind "it's people no one imagines anything of who do things no one can imagine" to great advantage.

Norwegian director Morten Tyldum directs The Imitation Game which also stars Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode, and Keira Knightley (Begin Again) and deals with how British mathematicians or code breakers were able to shift World War II in deciphering Germany's chameleonic "Enigma." The film also has a deep impact from wartime secrecy and homophobia around a remarkable man who pioneered the modern computer and was finally given his just due, even pardoned just last year.

Cumberbatch's driving, detailed portrait is one of analytical delicacy worked into the intrigue to break the code while providing the backstory a difficult, presumptuously eccentric child (a sharp Alex Lawther) able to keep secrets and attracted to cryptology. One that is bookended by a 1951 interrogation by a detective (Rory Kinnear) that would ultimately seal the tragic fate of Turning's "indecency" (violating English law) arrest a year later, chemical castration, and a cyanide-laced apple suicide in a very sad chapter of Britain's history of persecution.

In 1939 Turing is a 27-year-old Cambridge professor retained by his country's edgy military to join the Bletchley Park operation run by British Intelligence Menzies (an ingratiating Strong) and Commander Denniston (a blunt Dance of Dracula Untold). A special computing apparatus could be constructed to quickly check the multitude of combinations that links back to one of his earlier academic thesis projects. But, the costliness and resistance from chess wiz (Goode) as well as Denniston who prefer traditional techniques (and preside over well-known British decipherers) doesn't faze Alan who gets Winston Churchill to side with his dubious plan to construct the ginormous 'Christopher' (from Alan's former, deceased infatuation).

In Graham Moore's finely refined script that shows how Turing tinkers with Christopher to do the necessary, if safe calculations to limit casualties and keeping the Nazis off-balance enough so as not to change their unique scheme, an engaging female member of the secret unit Knightley's very bright Joan Clarke is able to get the others to see the big picture. There is even a more affecting scene between her and Cumberbatch when Alan discloses his true feelings.

It's hard not to appreciate the alacrity of getting to the essentials (through interference and strategy) of what turns out to be more of an ominous exploration, a triumph for Cumberbatch who's so popular on the small-screen as Sherlock Holmes, in this case an amazing, even freakishly beautiful mind.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Dayra Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
The Imitation Game  A      B+                     A- 
A Top Ten for 2014
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