The movie’s title refers to the famous Turing test touted as a true test of any artificial intelligence – ask a series of questions and based on the responses try to figure out whether the thing answering is human or a machine imitating a human. It has a double meaning when used here as Turing is pretending not only to be straight but also to be more than his narcissistic unlikeable self to ensure that he remains in charge of the project to break the Enigma code and garners the support of his colleagues and superiors.
Turing has a single-minded purpose and that is to crack the supposed unbreakable code and as a result win WWII for the Allies. The contributions of other players in the research are somewhat glossed over – for instance although the Polish get a mention at the start of the film, there is no mention at all of the work of the 30 Commando team and other intelligence operations to recover Enigma machine parts, code books and supporting documentation from captured Nazi outposts or submarines. This is essentially the story from troubled public school childhood to the lonely cyanide-soaked-apple-suicide end of Alan Turing incorrectly purported to be the inspiration for Apple’s logo.
Benedict Cucumber Patch as usual does what he does so well and plays the oddball and dislikeable Turing who has internal struggles the audience can sympathise with – Lord knows he’s had plenty of practice in this department – from Sherlock to Khan – he’s in danger of being typecast, but why not when he consistently knocks it out of the park with his performances. It seems only a matter of time before he plays a Bond villain.
Kiera Knightley also doesn’t exactly dial it in – she’s perfect for the part to the point where I can’t really imagine anyone else playing the role. That is of course ignore the elephant in the room which is the fact that there’s already been a Hollywood film about the Ultra team called ‘Enigma; in which Kate Winslett did rather well as I recall! The best performance imo goes to the boy who played Turing as a boy coming to terms with his homosexual feelings and discovering the delights of mathematics.
All in all the film is a reasonably accurate portrayal of the facts, it does not over sentimentalise or over dramatize the story and yet still delivers an emotionally engaging bit of entertainment which leaves you in no doubt as to the significance of the work that was done at Bletchley Park.