There are a glut of movies about how the allies won World War 2, told largely from an American perspective, through the fighting of the brave troops on days like D-Day and various other infamous battles in that deadliest of almighty conflicts between the age old enemies of good and evil, however there never has been much concentrated around the man who cracked the supposedly unbreakable Enigma code, this film sets about putting that right, while also showing the harrowing story about how he was shambolically treated by the country he saved in the post war years, just because he was gay.
When looking back, the subject of homosexuality has reared itself a few times with films like Brokeback Mountain and the first movie I ever reviewed on here, Philadelphia among others, both of which were major award winners, however they have never covered a subject quite like this.
Alan Turing is something of an odd, some might say troubled man, but one with a brain like no other, which is excellently portrayed by the superb Benedict Cumberbatch. In the year of its release, he was, I personally believe, robbed of the Academy Award he clearly deserved, by the excellent performance of Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, possibly just because of the odd glaring error in this film.
One Keira Knightley also chips in with an equally impressive supporting role, that of Joan Clark, while Matthew Goode also makes for a very good Hugh Alexander, with the ever threatening Commander Deniston always played very effectively by the legend that is Charles Dance.
The glaring mistake comes in the form of one of the codebreakers who is seemingly placed at Bletchley Park as a Russian double agent, by MI6 at the start of the war, when of course we were actually fighting against the Russians, before Hitler invaded it on 22nd June 1941, this is also a mistake that costs this film some intrigue, because I would have liked to see the character in question drafted in some time later, to just give it a bit more of an edge, drip feeding the audience, rather than simply spoon feeding us, before making an almighty cock up later.
However, that mistake, as glaringly obvious as it is, is also somewhat made up for with the best sequence in the whole film, with the unbridled joy of actually breaking the Enigma code one minute, to the unbelievable low, which not only shows the enormous difficulty the team faced after breaking it, while also dragging the family of one of the codebreakers into the oncoming disastrous event very soon after, from which the film is unwilling to turn away.
There is also a nod to the difficulties that a single woman would undoubtedly have faced at that time, under the pressure of her parents, as well as the sheer impossibilities that all in question would have faced for the following 50 years while the breaking of the code was a government held secret.
This biographical film also jumps forwards and backwards at various stages, to see a young Turing in his days at school, where he met the true love of his life, the tragedy that befell him and the bullying that our hero had to endure in this desperately unhappy time for him, before then jumping forward, showing the development of the suspicions against him, when he refuses to have the police investigate a crime that has been committed against him.
Another masterful idea in this movie, is the desire to show Turing building his bombe machine, which is how he ultimately broke the Enigma code. Watching him construct it single handed, despite horrendous interference from his fellow codebreakers and his boss, simply drags you in and makes you want to understand more about it, making it an excellently educational tool as well.
The tour de force of acting by the leading man also takes in Turing’s struggle against hormonal therapy, one particular scene when he drops a glass on the floor is so convincing, you find yourself truly weeping for him, while he struggles to come to terms with what is happening to him and the final scene, with Turing on his own, is also yet another piece of outstanding acting.
This film is worth watching, if only for the performances of Cumberbatch and Knightley, who make one of the great screen love pairings to go along with the best.
Yes it has its mistakes, but let’s be honest, there are not many that don’t, I would just ask that you don’t write it off because to do so, would be a truly horrendous mistake.