Ewan Gleadow

Review: The Current War

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Copyright: Lantern Entertainment

It’s quite ironic that a film all about the invention of light was made by the largest group of dim-witted morons to have ever thought about gracing the art of film. The Current War at times is laughably bad, a film that was so bad it was shelved for two years and then pushed out the door without any time to prepare itself. Films that should never have seen the light of day are either overly ambiguous projects where you can see what the director was aiming for, or it can be something like the experience you can have with The Current War.  

A messy and hilarious film that was stuck in development hell, (which may actually be the reason it’s so dreadful) The Current War follows the story of Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he invents lightbulbs or electric, I forget which one, but so does the film. Cumberbatch stars alongside Michael Shannon who portrays George Westinghouse, whoever that is. Shannon only has himself to blame for appearing in consistently poor films despite having the acting abilities of one of the all-time greats. A real shame, Shannon has the potential to do great things and his performance here squanders any chance of it being of interest or salvation.  

For the majority of the running time, The Current War focuses on the rivalry between Edison and Westinghouse, as the two compete to create a profitable bulb that can shoot electric or gas into the homes of everyone in the country. Scenes depict Edison sleeping on a train, Westinghouse walking about in an angry manner and Tom Holland trying to prove he can do things outside of Spider-Man. Judging by his strange performance and even stranger comb-over, it’s looking like slim pickings for post-Peter Parker stages of his career. It’s the circle of life really; it happened to Tobey Maguire, it’s happening to Andrew Garfield, and now I hope it happens to Tom Holland as well. 

Nicolas Hoult also appears, proving once more that you can give a cracking performance in one film and then a distasteful portrayal of a Russian scientist in another in the same film. His role here as Nikolai Tesla isn’t a winning portrayal, ever since David Bowie played him in The Prestige those looking to adapt one of science’s greatest accomplishers are hard-pressed to do anything more with the role. Slapping on a funny accent is not the way to go about it, and Hoult brings us the same sordid scenario that Shannon’s career does. 

Never judge a book by its cover. But look at the poster for The Current War and tell me you’d truly want to watch that film. If you’re an uber fan of biopics or the work of Thomas Edison then by all means give The Current War a watch. Just be prepared for an underwhelming and at times horrifically boring piece of film. Oscar-bait garbage that didn’t win any awards because the producers were so embarrassed by the film that they threw it into the back of the closet never to be found again, but then someone decided to have a clear out and accidentally found this mess.  

The Current War would have been fine if Hollywood weren’t so intent on forcing Benedict Cumberbatch into playing every role he’s offered with his unconvincing American twang. Horrific filmmaking collides head on with contrite and unwilling performances. Mix in an already boring subject matter and you get horrible pieces like The Current War. My current war is on those individuals that thought this film was a good idea. You will never be forgiven, I plead that this is your last endeavour in filmmaking. What a waste of time.