The original film The Current War was released in 2017 to not a lot of fanfare at several film festivals. Many critics said that Michael Mitnick’s screenplay was a little too meandering. Its release was also in doubt because its distributor, the Weinstein Company, imploded due to the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. After several years and finding a new distributor, the film was recently rereleased.
The Current War: Director’s Cut tells the stories of three key historical figures (Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla) and their competition to bring electricity to the masses. Full disclosure, I really like movies about historical fiction and especially the time periods of the late 1800s to the early 1900s. I think it is fascinating to learn about historical figures and what was going on in their lives and their minds as they made decisions that have shaped our current lives.
With all of this said were they able to tweak enough of the original film to make it a better more focused film? I didn’t see the original release of the film, so I don’t have a lot to compare too. With that said, the film narrative does feel very undefined. There is not overarching goal or climax of the movie, as you would expect in most films. Mitnick looks to be an inexperienced screenwriter and has not written a film like this before. I can understand how hard it would be to compress a lot of compelling history down to less than two-hour on screen.
What saved the film in my opinion was the characters and the actors. Mitnick might have had problems putting together a streamlined plot but he does a great job with the characters putting them into unique and compelling situations. The reasons I loved the characters so much was because of all the actors involved. Benedict Cumberbatch does an awesome job as Thomas Edison, the inventor who tries to balance his family and business life. Tom Holland who has played Spiderman this past summer plays his role as Thomas Edison’s assistant with a lot more feeling and depth than I have seen him before. Mitnick does a good job of making us care what is going to happen to those folks on screen even though, we may know the outcome of the events. Due to this well-done nature of the characters, I can forgive some of the bad plot elements to a point. I think this film would have been stronger though if there was more of a climax and some tighter writing.
Overall, I give this movie a B (A Good Movie). I like historical dramas because I feel it takes people we have read and learned about in history and gives them some flavor. It was really interesting to see personalities of what Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse could have been like. The actors they picked for all these characters were an excellent selection as well and really enhanced these historical characters in my eyes. Now if you don’t like movies that are more character based then this will not be the movie for you. Also, the plot gets lost from time to time in the film, which, is why I downgraded it a whole letter grade. It is not a bad plot, Mitnick just has so much material to cover that he doesn’t always do a good job of stringing it together in a coherent fashion.
The Current War: Director’s Cut is rated PG-13 for some disturbing/violent images, and thematic elements. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, is the director while Michael Mitnick wrote the screenplay. This film stars Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Macfadyen.