The Current War

The Current War
The Current War
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, Tuppence Middleton, Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Hoult
In UK Cinemas July 26th, 2019

by Amanda Farley

The Current War is the latest movie from director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon to hit our screens. Despite some good efforts, this lavish period drama fails to spark excitement.

In the 1880s, electricity was about to change the world and celebrity inventor Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is busy developing and showing off his DC (Direct Current) electricity system. However, fellow inventor George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) soon appears on the scene offering a rival system. Westinghouse has placed his faith in the cheaper but more perilous AC (Alternating Current) electricity system and with the aid of Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) he begins what became known as the War of the Currents.

With so much at stake, including patent royalties and the right to electrify the cities of the United States (and ultimately the world), both sides are determined to win at all costs. When Edison feels the tide turning against him, he attempts to stigmatise both AC current and Westinghouse’s name. The Current War touches on the creation of the first electric chair, but glosses over the more macabre facts. Edison and Tesla’s genius is hinted at by their eccentricity, but little insight or shade is given to any of the three main characters. The film does nothing to lift the curtain and show the real men behind the inventions.

In theory, this film has it all: A great cast, a real life story that brings together three of the world’s greatest minds and at a moment in history that would go on to define our modern world. Yet the end result is utterly underwhelming. The audience is left with shadows and outlines in place of engaging, fully fleshed out characters. It’s hard to care. While a few moments stand out as special and Katherine Waterston as Westinghouse’s wife sparkles on screen, The Current War‘s overall effect is disappointing.

It’s taken a while, but this Weinstein casualty has finally shaken off its tainted associations and is ready to go, but perhaps with less spark than one might have hoped. The Current War is enjoyable, but far from being anything special.


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