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The Current War

The Current War: Its Makers’ Broken Old Toy

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Yasmeen Mamdouh
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The Current War: Its Makers’ Broken Old Toy

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You probably remember that toy you loved so much, which may have stopped working yet you still loved to carry it around despite its flaws. The Current War is definitely flawed, but do the makers offer enough to get you to like their broken, old toy?


Having faced some significant issues, like the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy (following producer Harvey Weinstein’s infamous sexual harassment scandal) and reshoots, the film was shelved for almost two years before finally being released in a new cut.


The Current War follows what the film calls “a race to create the modern world” whose proponents were none other than renowned inventors Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon). As Edison invents the light bulb and begins to implement an electrical system of his design, Westinghouse comes forth with an alternative system, and so the race begins. Through the battle, morals and principles are tested, disregarded, and betrayed in a quest to be the man who lit up the world.


The choice of creating a feature about that outstanding time in history where inventions could completely change the world, as well as such an epic battle between two historical figures is in itself very interesting. However, the film somewhat loses focus, specifically in the middle of its second half, where extra elements come into play to muddle the plot; the distractive subplot of Nikola Tesla’s struggles (Nicholas Hoult), who could have been briefly introduced earlier, when he was relevant to the film.




The film does get points for realistically portraying two humans who, sharing many similarities, have egos and make mistakes. The trap of good guy vs bad guy was very easy to fall into, especially with Edison’s portrayed persona, but that would have made for a shallow cliché viewpoint.


One of the most spectacular aspects of the film is how beautifully shot the feature is; most of the frames resembled paintings, with its creative and expressive lighting, detailed backgrounds, and outstanding angles.


As for the acting, stubborn genius Edison is a character that Benedict Cumberbatch has effortlessly executed; flaunting his on-screen charisma with a balanced performance, although he could have been more expressive when his character was being driven to act against its beliefs.


Overshadowed by Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon’s performance was faded, struggling to justify his character’s intentions and motives to the audience – which could be attributed to how the character was written.


Playing Edison’s assistant, Tom Holland gives a good performance, despite being a supporting role. Playing Westinghouse’s wife, Katherine Waterson stood out in her supporting role, making her character memorable with an amazing performance.

The Current War is definitely flawed, but, if you can forgive its mistakes, it may be worth the watch.

Like This? Try

Mary Queen of Scots (2018), The Imitation Game (2014), Unbroken: Path to Redemption (2018). 

360 Tip

Jake Gyllenhaal was originally cast alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role, however, Gyllenhaal dropped out and Michael Shannon was brought as a replacement.

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