Customer Review

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart thriller that weaves historical fact into suspenseful fiction, 25 April 2006
This review is from: Enigma [DVD] [2001] (DVD)
Anyone who has watched World War II documentaries on the HISTORY cable channel will recognize the name Bletchley Park. And the title Enigma will induce images of that strange looking typewriter that caused so many problems for Allied code-breakers. The operation lay classified for 30 years and also led to the world's first modern computer (which took up an entire room at the complex and had the appropriate title Colossus). This movie manages to make what would appear to be an incredibly dull subject (a fact the director freely admits in an accompanying documentary) of code-breaking, interesting by giving us a colorful array of characters. On parade here is the obsessed mathematician Thomas Jericho (played by Dougray Scott) to the mousy Hester Wallace (Kate Winslet), the seductive Claire (Saffron Burrows) and the mysterious secret agent Wigram (Jeremy Northam). The movie's pace is also helped by an interesting mystery that ties in an actual fact from World War II (that lay shrouded in mystery until 1990) and a race against time to break a code before a critical shipping convoy can be ambushed in the mid-Atlantic.

Really the plot here is first-rate. I would go into detail here except I do not want to spoil it for the viewer. There is a clear cause and effect and everything you think might just be a subplot or an unexplained thread in the plot is all tied up and explained by the end of the movie. Even something as unrelated as why the German's have chosen to change the settings on Enigma at that time is explained.

The movie opens to find Jericho arriving back at Bletchley Park. He had previously been there as a code-breaker who had gained notoriety as the man who had broken the Enigma code, but had been relieved of duty after suffering a mental breakdown over Saffron Burrows's character. He is back at the Park following a change in the Enigma settings by the Germans.

He arrives to find Claire missing and some open hostility towards him by the director of the center. Teaming up with Winslet's character he embarks on a quest to discover the truth behind Claire's disappearance, a mission that will take up across the UK countryside and into direct conflict with Northam's secret agent, who is on the trail of a traitor at the Park.

And all the while the convoy steams across the Atlantic towards the waiting German U-boats.

The movie might be a little slow for some. There is no big gun battle or hordes of armies clashing with each other, even the car chase seems a rather mundane affair (as Jericho and Hester attempt to outrace the authorities) as opposed to the more flashy Hollywood chases. But its in tune with the general mood and does not detract from the complex plot of the movie.

Expertly crafted by Mchael Apted (who directed the James Bond movie THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH) and written by acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard (based on a novel by Robert Harris) this movie is a treat for thriller fans that does not insult ones intellgence. But instead ratchets up the suspense in an enjoyable cocktail of espionage, love, action, suspense and dramatic tension.
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