The Imitation Game

November 28, 2016 - Efforts by really smart Brits to crack the German Enigma code during World War II lead to high drama in this fact-based film from 2014. Stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley received Oscar nominations. The movie was also up for best picture, and it did win an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, a mathematical genius who also happens to be gay. In 1939, he's recruited by MI6 to join a top-secret team at Bletchley Park, outside London. Their mission is to crack the codes being used by the German Navy during World War II. The Brits managed to get their hands on a German Enigma machine, which can decode the messages. The problem is that the Germans change the key every day and the possible combinations number in the hundreds of millions.

Turing's idea is to build a machine that can sort through all those combinations quickly. But other members of his team think he's crazy until he gets support from Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He also gets help – and friendship – from Joan Clarke, a woman who's a math genius in her own right. Still, despite all this brain power, it takes a comment made by a woman in a pub to give Turing the clue he needs to solve the mystery of Enigma.

Overall review: **** This is a war movie with battle scenes that take place in offices and huts and police interview rooms and apartments. The tension builds as Turing and his team race against a deadline to crack Enigma. Once they do, there's more tension as they realize that their discovery itself must be kept secret. The other enigma here is Turing himself as he struggles to deal with his homosexuality during a very unaccepting time.