The Bock’s Office: ‘Imitation Game’ a precise, poignant drama | CraigDailyPress.com

The Bock’s Office: ‘Imitation Game’ a precise, poignant drama

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and associates perform cryptanalysis in "The Imitation Game." The movie is about a group of British code-breakers during World War II.

Even when a person makes a tremendous change for the better in the world, it doesn't take much for their legacy to be tarnished or even forgotten completely. Although it can't change some of its unfortunate circumstances, "The Imitation Game" labors to get its hero his due.

In 1939, Great Britain is officially at war, and while troops are being deployed, officials are seeking all the help they can find to combat enemy forces from every avenue.

Mathematical genius Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is among those approached to join the Government Code & Cypher School at Bletchley Park, with the objective of applying cryptanalytical skills toward Enigma, the Germans' complex and nearly unbreakable code used in military communications.

Although many think the effort to be a lost cause as the team makes little to no progress, Turing seeks to build a machine that will make the job simpler, the construction of which is hugely expensive in a time when money and supplies are scarce.

Turing's antisocial nature also wins him no friends as he tries to convince his superiors that his project will work with enough time, but it's not until he recruits a young woman named Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) to aid in the effort that things begin to come together.

However, certain details of Turing's personal life leave him forever in fear that he might have his career destroyed or worse.

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Even playing an intellectual, Cumberbatch injects a great deal of emotional equilibrium into someone who's so stuck in his own head most of the time that he can't relate to anyone around him, partly because of his focus on his work but also because of his repressed homosexuality that he dare not reveal.

Knightley is equally powerful as his less awkward confidante, coping with prejudice herself as the lone female presence among a boys' club and facing a judgmental family that wants her to have no part in the war effort, even though they have no idea of her impact.

There are secrets and lies aplenty for the two to handle in this line of work, and the realization that sometimes only slivers of the truth are allowed have different effects on everyone involved from the blustering commander at Bletchley (Charles Dance) who really doesn't appreciate it when you go over his head to ask Winston Churchill for more money to the MI6 agent (Mark Strong) who sees through the illusions before him with ease and uses them to his advantage.

Hey, who are we at war with, anyway?

The long-hidden facts about the code-breaking team who made an inestimable difference against the Nazis were already touched on in the mostly fictitious, painfully dull "Enigma," but it's the look at the man who helped along many of these advances as well as modern computer science that sets apart this historical piece.

Were it not for an incident in the 1950s that led to Turing being found guilty of "indecency" — the not-that-long-ago term for the crime of being gay — who knows how much further he could have gone in his field even after being the mind responsible for getting to the root of a cipher that boasted 159 quintillion possible outcomes.

While it's very much a message movie, direction by Morten Tyldum, a screenplay by Graham Moore and a typically grand musical score by Alexandre Desplat let it flow as smoothly as the rotors of Turing's masterpiece at full speed, thankfully not getting stopped up by the all too easy approach of unabashed preachiness, though perhaps with a little too much creative liberty.

"The Imitation Game" would have been all but impossible to make the way it is back in Turing's day and in fact the script notably went unproduced for several years before being put into action. Besides being a vital portion of the saga of World War II, it serves as a reminder that society can only keep the truth scrambled for so long.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @TheBocksOffice.

If you go

“The Imitation Game,” rated PG-13

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars

Running time: 114 minutes

Starring:Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and Mark Strong

Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.

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