First Hit: The amazing acting tells a truly amazing story about belief and perseverance.
This is the amazing story of how Germany’s Enigma machine was decoded and used to assist the allies in winning World War II.
Alan Turing is featured here as the father of machines that think (the way machines think/process information – today we call them computers). As a young boy Turing (young Alex play by Alex Lawther) is a smallish, nerd who is picked upon by his fellow classmates. He’s smart and begins to discover his homosexuality through caring about, of, and for his one true school friend – Christopher.
During the war he’s asked to participate in decoding the German Enigma machine. He’s grouped with Hugh (Matthew Goode), John (Allen Leech), Peter (Matthew Beard), Jack (James Northcote) and then Alan finds and adds Joan (Keira Knightley) to the team. Each of them are good puzzle solvers, chess players and/or mathematicians.
Problem with this team is that Turing (adult Turning played by Benedict Cumberbatch) doesn’t work well with others. He believes that he can build a machine that will solve the problem and thinks trying to decode Enigma manually is a useless endeavor. He thinks working with a team will slow him down.
This is an amazing story and the acting is top shelf. However, the problem I found with the film is that it tells this story in three different time frames and juggles them in a way that didn’t work for me. I was fascinated by the young Turing, and as I begin to fully drop into this child’s experience, bang we’re in the 1950’s and he’s being arrested for homosexuality, then bang we’re back into the story of him building a machine to decode Enigma.
All three stories are great and the acting in them is great – it is the jostling of my emotions that I didn’t like by the way it moved from one story to another. However, all told it was an amazingly acted film that told a wonderful and powerful story.
Lawther is absolutely mesmerizing as the young Turing. His expressions and soulful eyes told a huge story. Cumberbatch as the adult Turing is stunning and embodied a man who understood problems and math far more than people. I loved the scene where he stated that he was always decoding because people never said what the meant. Knightly is, again, sublime. She’s perfect as the only bright light in Turing’s relationships with people. Goode is very strong as the chess master who learns to respect what Turing can do. Leech, Beard and Northcote are great in their supporting roles as code solvers. Mark Strong as the MI6 manager of this team is cunningly strong. Charles Dance is perfect as Commander Denniston the man who wanted to run a tight ship. Graham Moore wrote a strong script but he and director Morten Tyldum could have, in my opinion, made a better film if it was more chronological in nature.
Overall: This was an excellent film sharing an amazing story about how World War II was shortened.