Cumberbatch the real deal in ‘Imitation Game’

By Bob Bloom

Battles are fought on land, sea and air.

But wars are won or lost in nondescript, hidden away, back rooms where brain trumps brawn in creating ways to outthink the enemy.

That is ththe imitation gamee concept behind “The Imitation Game,” which tells the story of Alan Turing and the members of his team who, during World War II, broke the German enigma code, thus giving the Allies access to the enemy’s every secret.

The movie serves a dual purpose: It’s a historical thriller about the long and frustrating process that finally led to breaking the code as well as a story of a mathematical genius who related more to figures than people.

Benedict Cumberbatch gives a career defining performance as Turing, whose single-minded obsession with finding the key to unlock the enigma takes precedence over everything in his life.

But Turing has a secret of his own: He is a homosexual at a time when being gay was literally against the law in Great Britain.

Turing is an ill-mannered, unsociable individual who speaks his mind, damned the consequences.

He treats those around him with contempt because he feels his intellect gives him the right to do so.

Turing is a contradiction because as much as he would rather work alone, he also craves constant recognition of his mental superiority.

From the outset, Turing sees the big picture of the consequences of breaking the enigma. After deciphering the code, he refuses to send out a message warning a convoy that they will be attacked by U-boats, realizing if the ships are warned the Germans will know their communications have been compromised.

“The Imitation Game” may hinge of Cumberbatch’s performance, but he also is surrounded by a strong ensemble, including Mark Strong as a government intelligence official who mixes pragmatism with cynicism, Matthew Goode as a team members who has the ease and personality around people that Turing lacks and, most of all, Keira Knightly as another code breaker who must intellectually fight for her place in this man’s club.

“The Imitation Game” is an impressive feature that is tinged with tragedy.

The price Turing pays for his discovery and lifestyle is costly, showing how a government can, during wartime, overlook a man’s unconventional existence, than condemn him for it during peacetime.

Like most governments, Great Britain made amends to Turing, but by then it was too late.

“The Imitation Game,” though, is a sterling tribute to a genius who helped defeat the scourge of Nazism without firing a shot.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at Reel Bob ( and The Film Yap ( He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes:



4 stars out of 4

(PG-13), mature and thematic elements, language, smoking