Imitation Game is a movie about the secret effort by the British during World War II to break the German’s “Enigma” code which was used to encrypt all their military communications. It focuses on the recruitment of Alan Turing to the team of linguists, chess players, and cryptographers that were pulled into a fake “radio factory” where they struggled to break the code while British citizens where dying constantly in battle.
It’s well known that Alan Turing was gay during an era when homosexuality was against the law in Britain (and elsewhere) and his life was destroyed by the laws of the very government he saved. It’s unclear how much of the plot of the story revolving around Turing’s life as true and how much of it was “dramatized” for the movie. But I’ll say this, they did a really good job bringing the plot around the war together with the plot about his personal life. In fact, in a dramatic monologue about 2/3 through the movie Turing lectures a police officer about what would later become known as the Turing Test and how to distinguish between a machine and a “normal” human being. The parallels to how Turing was treated are petty obvious and kudos to the screenwriter for taking a less-is-more approach to it and kudos to Benedict Cumberbatch for his pitch perfect Asperger’s-esque delivery.
Here’s my problem with the movie though. It could have been a very interesting movie without even touching on Turing’s personal life. The team is so focused on solving the “puzzle” they are going after that they are shocked at the implications of their success. That turn could have sustained the movie all by itself.
So what you get in the second half of the movie is a divergence of the plot lines that had come together so well during the first part of the movie and I didn’t think either was dealt with very well and the closing scenes had to be patched up with multiple expository screens of text to try to complete the story at the end.
Having said all that, I can recommend the movie. It’s a great period piece that does a good job dramatizing how tenuous the war effort was in Britain at the time. It shows well the sacrifices people made. It shows well the restrictive social norms of the day. And they also did a good job of contrating the work of the cryptography team against the work of the everyday soldier.