It was refreshing that a movie about Alan Turing, a brilliant mathematician, didn’t bog us down with cryptography equations we wouldn’t get. It was a low-key thriller that was rather engrossing, despite not having enough guts to go into places that a complete biopic on Turing might have.
Benedict Cumberbatch will get a well-deserved Oscar nomination for playing a character that obviously has some disorder (Asperger’s, OCD, etc.), that makes him come across as arrogant and unlikable.
Just watching the opening scene, in which Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) is interviewing Turing for a job that will have him break the code the Germans were using, is a blast. Turing doesn’t understand the sarcasm, but his intelligence is enough to land him the gig.
Turing quickly realizes that the code is unbreakable with a handful of humans working on it. The Germans change the codes constantly, so if a code is decrypted, the next day, there’s a new system. Turing wants 100,000 pounds to build a machine, convinced only another machine will be able to compute the calculations fast enough. Yes, it’s safe to say he’s the guy who invented the computer (sorry Al Gore).
I’m sure you know what ends up happening, but it’s a shame that more people don’t know exactly what Alan Turing went through. He was a visionary, and a true war hero. Instead of diners in Hillcrest being named after Harvey Milk, they should be named after this guy (although he does have his name attached to something called the “Turing test” which tests a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior that’s indistinguishable from that of a real person).
Director Morten Tyldum gives us a nicely layered story. We watch as Turing has difficulty working well with others. Flashbacks show that he didn’t get along well with others as a school boy. The various time periods the movie jumps around all work nicely.
We see a crush Turing has on a boy in his elementary school. It’s just a heartbreaking segment. We see him having a flirtatious relationship with Joan (Keira Knightley). We watch as some of the people start to understand his genius, yet it doesn’t necessarily mean they like him any more because of it.
There could be a spy working with them, too. Oh, and there’s that annoying boss – Commander Denniston. He doesn’t like the money being wasted, and the fact that they don’t seem any closer to breaking the code after all the time spent on it.
There are some great edits. One that comes to mind is Turing’s machine turning on, becoming the spinning mechanisms becoming wheels of a tank.
It was so long ago that I saw this (it’s one of the many good films I was able to catch at the San Diego Film Festival earlier this year), it’s hard to remember everything about it.
The era was captured perfectly, and it’s a fun history lesson.
The Weinstein’s reportedly paid $7 or $8 million for this story, and they’ll be rewarded with what they like best – Oscar nominations.
It’s not a perfect movie, but a damn good one.
It gets 3 ½ stars out of 5.