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The Current War: Director's Cut Movie Review

The Current War: Director's Cut Movie Review
Electric Overdue

It's been a fraught and unfortunate road to the screen for "The Current War" from director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's ("Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"). "The Current War," was met with mixed reviews when it first saw the light of day at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and, like many movies in past years, was chopped to pieces by then-producer Harvey Weinstein. Once the allegations against Weinstein became public and The Weinstein Company collapsed, "The Current War" lingered in purgatory, with its chances of seeing movie theaters looking slim.


Two years later, the movie is being released as "The Current War: Director's Cut," to shed its previous baggage and hopefully stand on its own. "Current" is competent, if lacking any verve, but it should be considered a win for the film that it's hitting major theaters during a crowded awards season.

The movie centers around Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch, "Avengers: Infinity War") and his rivalry with George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon, "Complete Unknown") as the two inventors battle to light the entire country. Once Edison knows Westinghouse is looking to challenge him and his invention, he begins working on his project through any means necessary, in the hopes of being ready for the upcoming Chicago World's Fair.

"The Current War" certainly boasts a strong cast. In addition to the leads, Nicholas Hoult ("Tolkien") plays Nikola Tesla, caught between the two inventors, and Tom Holland ("Spider-Man: Far From Home") has a few standout scenes as Edison's assistant and voice of reason. The cast works hard to liven up a familiar script, which often feels like a checklist account of historical facts rather than a fully formed movie.

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Gomez-Rejon takes us on a decade-plus journey with Edison and Westinghouse and begins the movie with a real purpose and drive, but somehow the energy evaporates quickly. "Current's" first act is propulsive and wastes no time in setting up the characters and story, but once the movie gets into the heart of the story, it feels like everything completely flatlines. It's frustrating for a movie to start strong and then fizzle out, especially for a film you want to see succeed.

After winning the Sundance Grand Jury in 2015 with "Me and Early and the Dying Girl," Gomez-Rejon conducts "The Current War" with a purpose. He tries to show he can do more than a teen melodrama and his effort to bring visual gravitas to his latest feels a bit forced, as straightforward scenes are shot at absurd and distracting angles. It seems like flair for the sake of flair.

Regardless of missteps along the way, the team behind "The Current War" should feel proud of themselves for the moving making it to theaters. It's just a shame the "Current" wasn't a bit stronger, so the giant asterisk next to its name could go away and not be the main talking point about the movie.

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About Udara Madusanka

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