Luke McWilliams gives his review of the 2017 historical drama film, The Current War, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon.
In 1880, a train uses its Westinghouse air-brakes to come to a squealing halt. Its passengers disembark into a field of electric lights with one Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) standing in the middle, unveiling his plans for a Direct Current system to beat gaslight. Businessman and inventor George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) wishes to partner with Edison, inviting him to his home for dinner. After being snubbed, however, Westinghouse and his wife Marguerite (Katherine Waterson) set out to prove Alternating Current to be the better system instead.
Originally cut to Harvey Weinstein’s taste and shelved due to his abuse controversy, the movie was re-edited and re-released thanks to Martin Scorsese’s producer’s final-edit clause.
The Prestige pitted master magicians against each other due to the death of a loved one on stage, causing them to one-up each other throughout. Our inventors here don’t have a reasonable catalyst for their competition other than Edison’s fragile ego. Where Edison’s principals gradually slide, Westinghouse is played with pure intentions of seeking a true partnership; his wife is the driving force of his competitive strategy. While it is interesting to see the birth of the AC system (and a few other world-changing inventions), the main force of the story is unbelievably petty with no real stakes.
Verdict: While a beautiful looking film with solid performances, our lead characters seem far removed from their real-life counterparts. Bring on a movie of the real hero of electricity, Nikola Tesla! 2.5 stars.
The Current War is now screening in cinemas.
Luke McWilliams, themovieclub.net.
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