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by Robert McCourt | September 28th, 2001


Buena Vista International
Director - Michael Apted,
Screenplay - Tom Stoppard. Based on a novel by Robert Harris
Starring Dougray Scott, Kate Winslet, Jeremy Northam, and Saffron Burrows
Running time - 117 minutes
Release date - September 28th

Enigma is a classic British war film about the code breaking cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park. Set in 1943, just as the biggest convoy of allied shipping has left New York, the Nazis unexpectedly decide to change their Enigma cipher, and suddenly British intelligence is completely blacked. No longer able to detect where the enemies deadly U-boats are the war itself is once again in the balance, and the code breakers have just four days to get their way back into shark, the new unreadable code.

Adapted from a novel by Robert Harris, with screenplay by Tom Stoppard, and produced by Jagged Production Enigma is a massive combination of talent. And the result is an intelligent, precise, and sometimes funny portrayal of how the Bletchley Boffins helped to win the war, giving the British thankfully more credit than the film U-571. Enigma weaves an intricate web of intrigue, espionage, deception, and love with Tom Jericho (Dougray Scott) emerging as the ultimate hero. Brought back to Bletchley in the midst of the crisis he begins to realise that he might be responsible for the devastating intelligence blackout. After the mysterious disappearance of Claire (Saffron Burrows - a dangerously enticing femme fatale who was responsible for driving Jericho crazy) he goes over to her cottage to try and find out the truth. Suddenly in a fit of rage he tears her room apart and finds proof of his own stupidity and is caught red handed by Claire‚s less than glamorous house mate Hester. The pragmatic, frumpish and frustrated Hester is played brilliantly by Kate Winslet, who is immediately convincing. However Hester is not the only one interested in Jericho‚s lack of caution, and Mr Wigram (Jeremy Northam) a smooth charming and arrogant British spy delights in questioning and taunting an uneasy Mr Jericho. As the story unfolds Director Michael Apted manages to capture some of the tension and atmosphere of the book, yet at times the pace is a little slow and you find yourself spotting laptops that shouldn't really be there. However your mind never wonders for very long and you are quickly engaged by the drama of the war room, and the unrelenting battle of the Atlantic. The ending though is a disappointment and being rather predictable and nice‚ which doesn't do justice to the rest of the film. However Enigma is well worth going to see, and remains a great story about British wartime achievements, spiced up with old fashioned car chases.

Robert McCourt

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