Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Movie Review - "The Imitation Game" (2014) - Cumberbatch and More Cumberbatch
Sometimes you can tell that a particular movie is created due to a star's popularity or the acclaimed roles they have played. "The Wolf Of Wall Street" was made almost specifically to showcase Leonardo DiCaprio's talents, same with Bruce Dern in "Nebraska."
"The Imitation Game" gives off the same vibe as those films. The film plays to the strength of its lead actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, by playing it close to home for him. But he exceeded my expectations by playing a character that is all too familiar to us, yet still giving a unique and creative performance.
It is the middle of World War II, and Britain is under constant attack by the Nazis. The tides seemingly turn though when British soldiers acquire an Enigma Machine, the device Nazis use to code all of their messages, making it impossible for anyone else to understand. The problem is that, since there are over 159 Million Million combinations, no person can figure out the machine even with a head start. But what would another machine?
Professor Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a mathematician prodigy and is hired by the British government to crack the code to the Enigma Machine. He figures that this task is impossible for him to pull off, so he'll invent something with a digital brain that could decipher the code. All the while, Turning is hassled by coworkers, the government and his own insecurities about his sexuality and need to keep secrets.
Let's start this off by pointing out the character traits of Alan Turing - He is a genius, able to solve complex problems in moments, is full of himself, loves to understand how the villain works, but is socially awkward, does not understand humor or sarcasm and chooses to not have many friends.
From the first scene with Turing, there was no doubt in my mind that Benedict Cumberbatch was hired because Alan Turing is so close to his performance as Sherlock Holmes. Turing and Holmes are two peas in a pod, even down to their vacant stare and uneasy around other people.
So you'd think "The Imitation Game" would be a WW2 mystery film with Sherlock Holmes being himself, right? Actually, I was surprised when I found out just how good of an actor Cumberbatch is.
Though he is playing a character almost identical to his role in "Sherlock," Cumberbatch finds ways to make Alan Turing his own man. Turing is reserved in his speech, choosing to stay quiet until something needs to be said. Also, Turing attempts to be friends with his co-workers, but they are put off by his need to be better than everyone else.
Turing actually cares about people and what might happen if he fails at his mission. Sherlock just loves the thrill of the hunt and understanding the mind of those he hunts.
Turing also breaks into many emotional motions in the film, so he is a man who wears his emotions on his sleeves. Cumberbatch can be both quiet and reserved, but also loud and boisterous. I have the utmost respect for Benedict Cumberbatch, being able to play a character so close to his iconic role, but still making it his own role. It is no wonder that he got the Oscar nomination.
However, outside of Cumberbatch's unique acting talents, there is not much to "The Imitation Game." The pacing and story are rather predictable, with a twist leaning towards Turing's sexuality, and the cast does a fine job at their performances, especially Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, but nothing that sticks out.
That being said, "The Imitation Game" is still a movie to be checked out, if only to watch Benedict Cumberbatch do something old and new simultaneously. The film does not necessarily do anything bad, but it is not eye-catching either. Wait for this one to come out on DVD and give it a rental.
Final Grade: C+