The Current War (2017) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Released in cinemas 2 years after its TIFF debut due to the Harvey Weinstein’s allegations, “The Current War” is lavish in its period set designs with top notch A-list casting of Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult and Tom Holland. Somehow the film remains rather average and stale with a lack of crucial excitement factor or adrenaline going for it. Instead we get the classic old battle of AC and DC between two powerhouse of electricity Sir Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. Satirical comedy Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon tries to add to too much in the material and in the process diluted the outcome to be something greater than average.
Benedict Cumberbatch does extremely well as the famed genius of Thomas Edison, the inventor of all things direct current and the light bulb. Cumberbatch manages to show the same level of intensity as his previous genius roles of famous people. In fact, Michael Shannon performs even better as his arch rival George Westinghouse, with a level of compassion juxtaposing his competitiveness and mutual respect for the great Edison. Tom Holland is Tom Holland and is wonderful as the assistant supporting Edison. Katherine Waterston is good in the flawed and under appreciated role of Edison’s late wife.
All in all, “The Current War” is probably shelved for more than the aforementioned controversy, but rather the fact that it is an underwhelming effort of film to portray a life story of such a stellar inventor. The story wasted a number of strong performances from the all-round cast and does not seem to be able to answer most of its moral dilemma that the film raises themselves. The final confrontation of the two greats remain the best part of the film and its a little too late to lift it above its material.
I rated it 6/10