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‘The Imitation Game’ Turns Actual Humans into Caricatures

by on January 12, 2015

There’s nothing particularly objectionable about “The Imitation Game”. But there’s nothing memorable about it either.

The real Alan Turing, who you won’t really get to know if you watch “The Imitation Game”.

Morten Tyldum’s latest movie is fine. It does an adequate job of portraying what it took to crack an unbreakable code and win a war.

But the characters are just archetypes. Alan Turing was smart and didn’t play well with others. What does that make him? Other than every Benedict Cumberbatch character?*  Honestly, they took a man who was probably fascinating in real life and made him pretty one-note.

*Oh yeah, and he was gay. That was obviously an an important part of who he was, but it seemed that the creators thought telling us he was gay qualified as fleshing him out as a character.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just that, though. They managed to turn each character into a cliché.

There’s the commander who just can’t afford to keep the code-breaking project going and is very angry about how long it is taking. He doesn’t like the smart guy because he’s socially awkward and doesn’t understand REAL WAR.

There’s the other code-breaker who’s better-looking and has the important, powerful people on his side that Turing doesn’t (and he, of course, doesn’t like the Turing).

There’s the deceptively charming guy who may or may not be a spy.

There’s the one who desperately wants to crack the code because his brother is in the war.

And there’s the woman valiantly fighting oppressive societal norms to help crack the code.

For me, interesting characters are damn near a requirement to enjoy a movie. And try as he might, Cumberbatch couldn’t get me completely invested in his (let alone those in the rest of the movie). It’s frustrating because the writers basically tell us one thing about each character** instead of showing us what makes them characters. This movie has other things to offer, but it’s tough for me to get into it without any interesting, complex characters.

**Or simply slide them into their assigned archetype.

And then there’s the “uplifting” ending.

For one thing, the line that is repeated three times during the movie and used at the end to raise everyone’s spirits was not a good line. It was cheesy, and I have a hard time believing anyone would ever say it in real life. But the tone of the ending combined with the postscript did not serve the story well.

[HISTORICAL SPOILER ON THE WAY]

It was basically  “You’re great because you’re different!” [smiles, hugs all around] and BTW HE KILLED HIMSELF ONE YEAR LATER.

If you remember anything about this movie more than three days after seeing it, I would be surprised. Where “Foxcatcher” enhances its true story, “The Imitation Game” muffles it. The true story of Alan Turing is much more interesting than this bland, safe piece of work.

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From → Movie Reviews

2 Comments
  1. taylorgaines permalink

    Obviously, I agree. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Completely agree. A dull, cliched movie that consisted of the writers hammering us over the heads with their “Give me an Oscar” theme; they were simply unable to thoroughly engage with the character as a real person over the character as yet another socially inept genius. Very disappointing.

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