The race to power the United States is the main attraction in “The Current War”, an interesting drama with a terrific cast that should hold your attention, but never really energizes itself enough to make the subject matter truly exciting.
Benedict Cumberbatch is Thomas Edison, the legendary inventor who finds a rival in George Westinghouse played by Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water), who each decide they want to be the pioneering mind to bring electricity into the American household. The wild card here is Nikola Tesla, played by Nicholas Hoult, who could hold the key to the competition if only he could catch a break. Tom Holland plays Edison’s secretary, Samuel Insull, in a neat Spiderman-Dr. Strange reunion from the Marvel movies.
Michael Mitnick directs a gorgeous picture that brings the late 1800s to life, and the cast truly holds the story together with Edison and Westinghouse constantly trying to outdo each other. There are some historic callbacks and the story moves along at a satisfying pace from beginning to end. There also isn’t a clear villain here which makes the audience do a little thinking over who to root for.
The problem with “The Current War” is that the story never really jumps high enough to make this an excellent film. There isn’t any real suspense and the stakes never truly feel that high. Hoult is underused, in playing what could be the most interesting character in the movie, and ultimately because everyone involved is a fairly good guy, it’s tough to make us care who loses in the end.
But it’s a good movie. If you feel like a dramatic science/history period piece I do recommend “The Current War”. It’s a unique experience in a movie environment saturated with reboots and remakes.
The Current War
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 Hour 41 minutes