Enigma

Bletchley Park, 60 miles outside London during the Second World War. The Germans have just changed the codes they use for their military communications, so the English bring in Tom Jericho (Dougray Scott), their former code breaking prodigy who was the only one able to crack the codes last time around. The problem is, Jericho went a little bit insane after some business involving his former lover Claire (Saffron Burrows), who has recently disappeared. On top of all this, there’s a rumour of a mole inside Bletchley Park, and when Tom investigates Claire’s disappearance with her room mate Hester (Kate Winslet), Tom finds incriminating evidence that could point towards Claire being the culprit, and he even finds himself under suspicion. Oh, and of course he’s working against the clock, as there’s a flotilla of US supply ships heading directly towards a cluster of German U-boats, and only his code-cracking skills can possible save them.

The one word review I would give this film is “Unremarkable,” although “Muddled” or “Lacklustre” would also be rather fitting. It’s not a terribly bad film, and there’s nothing overly wrong with it, there’s just not a lot going on if you aren’t fascinated with the subject matter of World War 2 code breaking. And in fact even if you are, there’s not a great deal shown here, and pretty much all of the story has been fictionalised and tarted up to make it more cinematic. There’s even a shoe-horned in car chase in an attempt to liven up the otherwise dreary and plodding nature. The twists, which are evenly spaced every fifteen minutes or so, are largely predictable, and once a completely irrelevant plot detail is given out just past the halfway mark, I very nearly stopped watching, so certain was I of the eventual outcome. 

The cast is good, with a host of know-the-face TV actors (including Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Hollander and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and the leads do well, even if Scott appears more hungover than mentally cracked as Tom Jericho, who sounds more like he should be stroking a cat in his volcano lair than attempting to crack codes in a basement. Kate Winslet has been dowdied up to look like a cross between Moaning Myrtle and Velma from Scooby-Doo, and she seems completely unable to keep her glasses on for longer than 20 seconds without having to adjust or remove them for polishing. 

At times the plot is confusing, flicking between the ‘present’ code breaking, Tom and Claire’s budding-then-wilting relationship and a small boy and his dog discovering a hand buried in a forest, and by the end I wasn’t thoroughly convinced that all these strands had been neatly tied together quite as succinctly as director Michael Apted would have liked.

Overall, the film is very dry, with maybe only a couple of interesting or entertaining moments, one of which was the line “They were seeing each other – they were seeing each other’s brains out.” Mostly predictable and entirely forgettable.

Choose life 4/10

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2 thoughts on “Enigma

  1. There's a reason this film is not mentioned when Winslet admirers extol her acting: it's so boring. BTW, the glasses bit was probably one of her added characterizations. She has a habit of doing this with whatever role she takes on.

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