The Imitation Game

Nominated for Best Picture at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch) at the 87th Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley) at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Director (Morten Tyldum) at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay (Graham Moore) at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Editing (William Goldenberg) at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Production Design (Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana MacDonald) at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat) at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Impressively mounted, but achingly conventional, this is the Best Picture nominee that might have benefited from going a bit more dangerous. Instead, it’s content to be your typical middle-brow, low-risk, high-reward, Weinstein Company product–but, of course, that only matters if they parlay the approach into some major Oscar wins. It’s not likely to do that, with other films and performances the prohibitive “favorites” in the top categories. “The Imitation Game” is never dull or offensive, it’s simply a “based-on-a-true-story” prestige pic, that begs to display all the complex and “icky” stuff–then just settles into a mildly diverting, play-to-the-masses rhythm. And I’ll wager that this Alan Turing fellow was much more intriguing than that.

It’s World War II, and the race is on to break Nazi Germany’s Enigma Code, and a top-secret British group works to bring together a team of brilliant code-breakers, under the approval of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Enter anti-social, oddball Alan Turing (a solid Benedict Cumberbatch), a mathematician and eventually pioneering computer scientist, who leads the team into the creation of “artificial intelligence”, to break the code and save the world from Adolf Hitler. Of course, there’s this little matter of repressed homosexuality that manages to get in the way of Turing being lauded historically as the heroic “inventor” of the computer. And fellow genius Joan Clarke (the deserves-better-material, Keira Knightley) rapidly becomes his most trusted friend and companion, while also being instrumental in masking his “perversion”.

I honestly adore Keira Knightley, but you can almost hear her counting her beats with this performance–never a good thing for an actress. She was so movie-star, gorgeously perfect in 2012’s under-estimated “Anna Karenina” that it’s somewhat painful, to witness her “giving in”, and turning in this audience-friendly portrayal. There was so much potential to make her Joan Clarke character extremely interesting…and most of the blame should fall at the feet of Tyldum and Moore. Cumberbatch is good, but again the screenplay manages to neuter him ahead of his actual enforcement of that act (the movie will explain). Again, there’s much opportunity for stinging drama here, but the director and screenwriter will hear none of it. A glorified television movie, “The Imitation Game” manages to be a bit better than fellow Best Picture nominee, “The Theory of Everything”, which is about the most positive thing I can currently think to say about it.

Grade:  C+

next review up:  “Inherent Vice”



2 comments on “The Imitation Game

  1. Good review Mark. Another one of those by-the-numbers, British biopics. Not terrible, but just whatever.

  2. Thanks, Dan. There was wonderful potential for a great story here, but it sells out for glossy Oscar prestige. ML

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: