The Imitation Game sets out to tell us all the true story of Alan Turing, an exceptional genius whose understanding of machinery and the concept of early computer mechanics led to the enigma codes being broken, the war in Europe, certainly, turning to the side of the Allies and the concept of the Turing Test, which is a process that can examine whether or not artificial intelligence can get anywhere close to the human brain in terms of thought processes and the language used within. A fascinating individual worthy, certainly, of a great film to examine his life and outstanding achievements. The Weinsteins, writer Graham Moore and director Morten Tyldum do not see it that way, it turns out, as what we get is something very different.
If you've sat at home on a Sunday night watching ITV you may have had a vision of what The Imitation Game ends up as, rather than brilliant, risk-taking, smart and calculated facts presented in clever and inventive ways, the film hits everything with an overbearing score, warm moments where characters share smiles to make sure the audience knows everyone is getting along and, goodness me, jokes for the sake of jokes. The job interview between Charles Dance's military commander at a top secret location and Benedict Cumberbatch's Turing is big, broad, and written with waits between laugh lines. It is The Big Bang Theory on the big bang screen, and Cumberbatch is open to playing Turing like Sheldon Cooper. The clear elements of autism are thrown onto a performance that goes on the broad side of the, ahem, spectrum, like a theatre performer playing for the back, if the auditorium was the country, the stage was London and the back was in Land's End. Big, broad, awkward. It is made worse when it becomes clear that the film has been written so that every other character, and every solid performance from the likes of Mark Strong, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode, is solely to make benefit the glorious nation of Benedict Cumberbatch and the Weinstein's next big Oscar grab.
Characters drift into the film to make an important statement, then drop out entirely, storylines crop up for an emotional camera shot then are left without any kind of climax, one scene has Knightley get angry at Cumberbatch, immediately change tone to happy, then jump into sad because of being a woman. It share the same scripting issues and lack of sight with The Room, only that film so foolhardily tries and succeeds to be enjoyable with its honest-to-goodnes attempt to be a movie, whereas this film is so hollow, fake, desperate that it cannot be enjoyed at any level. The magical ability to turn complex humans with brains smarter than anyone else and lives full of moments and vignettes fueling their entire adult lives into a convenient three act structure with dialogue that panders at every opportunity to the peanut gallery becomes an infuriating experience. When two smart people talk maths together in one scene, both knowing the scope of the other's intelligence, it is handled in a way that speaks more to the masses than it ever would between two highly intelligent people detailing their concepts and ideas, brand new in their fields, to one another. It is an embarrassing level of ticking a box to make sure the story of Alan Turing is made for a large audience, rather than the right audience. A case of crowd-pleasing by design rather than by quality.
There's little value in sitting through the turgid 2 hours of The Imitation Game, a film that fails on every level to tell any kind of honesty amidst the begging for awards and plea-ing the audience to 'watch our film about smart people, look, we've decreased smart things for you', a film so confused at times about what subject it wants to battle that the second line of text in the epilogue is statistics about an element of Turing's life that only comes to pass in the last 10 minutes of the film, whilst later epilogue texts, where the information should be coming to more 'and also' notes of information detail things that the majority of the film was looking at, like the amount of lives that can be saved through the invention of the code-breaker. As if they wanted to switch on some hot buttoning at the tail end to cover up the fact that they ineffectually told their main story. By ineffectually detailing another story or two on top of that. The Imitation Game is just an atrocious piece of cinema, avoid at all costs.