“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine” is the fitting motif for this movie, a thriller biopic of real-life scientist Alan Turing.
The film centres on the mathematician Alan Turing and his life in three separate stages of his life; as a schoolboy, during the Second World War in his early 30’s and after the war, in his 40’s in 1951. Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Turing is electrifying as always, similar in many respects to his portrayal of Sherlock, but more vulnerable and human. He manages to capture the “uncaring genius” and the destroyed secret war hero to such an extent, that if you don’t at least shed a tear at the film, then you are a heartless cad.
But the appeal doesn’t lie just in Cumberbatch, the support cast do just as well to keep up with the acting chops. With Keira Knightly as a second lead in the film, playing the caring Joan Clarke, it is her that ultimately helps Turing reach his goal of cracking the Enigma code, and helping Turing to at least try and interact like a normal human being with the rest of the team at Bletchley. Bletchley Park is a military secret, run by Commander Denniston (Charles Dance), an old school military man that is trying to get rid of Turing from the government project of cracking the famous ENIGMA code that Nazi Germany was using to send out orders to their U-boats and troops.
Working with Turing (reluctantly, I might add) we had Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (Allen Leech), Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard) and Jack Good (James Northcote) all outstanding characters that are relatable to you, or someone that you may have worked with in the past. For the portions of the film where it is focused on the young Turing, relative newcomer Alex Lawther does a steller job of capturing the quirks of the adult Turing and portraying the typical “schoolboy in love”. Mark Strong, who plays Stewart Menzies, pulls of an engaging performance as a shady MI6 officer, contrasting nicely with the naiveté of Turing’s character.
Throughout the film, there is an undercurrent of Frankenstein’s monster about Turing, with him falling in love with the ENIGMA code breaking machine, even so far as to name it “Christopher” after his first schoolboy love, and protecting it bodily from those that are trying to take it apart. We see this develop through the film as it progresses. As I mentioned, the film is a thriller biopic, but not in the traditional sense, there is no tangible villain (outside of Nazi Germany), but instead, they are fighting the clock, with more and more men dying, the team are struggling to come up with answers, and the payoff for their struggle is worth it. The soundtrack for the film is a mix of upbeat numbers and orchestral music, fitting to the scenes (can’t give too much away!). Visually the film is striking, the shots are lined up with precision and Morten Tyldum, clearly has taken time to study the real life of Alan Turing to create this film.
So is it worth it? Yes. I went to see it twice in the cinema. You’ll chuckle at some bits, you’ll cry at others, and you will come away with a new found awe for the technology around us.
Watch this film and many more like it at the macrobert