Coming to Bluray from 101 Studios, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is the story of what lights up our world from THE CURRENT WAR.
Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an inventor who is on a mission to make his electric DC (Direct Current) lightbulb even better. At the time of inventing he realizes that his process reaches fewer home and was touted to be expensive.
Along comes George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) who is also an inventor and is interested in what Edison is doing and sees a larger potential. Wishing to discuss the process even more, Westinghouse invites the Edison’s to dinner since the train was coming through their city. It was a meeting that was never to be. Westinghouse decides to work on his own technology by using AC (Alternating Current) as a mode for transporting electricity to a wider area.
In the middle of these two men is the quiet Nicola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) who arrives in America to work for Edison. Having ideas of his own, he follows Edison only to discover that his employer only wanted to hear about his own work and no one else’s.
The war begins as Edison sees no other way but to publicly try to bring down Westinghouse by suing him for patent infringement. Taking swings at one another, the game goes back and forth so discover who has the stronger bat. In between, both men are under the umbrella of tragedy and potential financial ruin.
Edison makes decisions about his own inventions when he is approaches by prison officials but when he needs funding, his assistant Samuel Insull (Tom Holland) suggests that he work on the Phonograph. Again, in between the war is Tesla who leaves Edison and is talked to by Westinghouse but sees the same issue as with Edison.
It all comes to a head when Edison and Westinghouse both vie for providing electricity to the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1883 Chicago. At a final meeting between Edison and Westinghouse, one would expect a gloating session but they both know that each would be known as inventors.
Cumberbatch as Edison is a man that is obsessed with his invention. Supported by his wife in all ways, it is a miracle that she could keep up with his inability to see outside himself. His obsession leads to bad decisions that people keep trying to point out to him. Cumberbatch gives Edison the right twitches, especially when Edison goes against his own nature. Once again Cumberbatch turns in a solid performance.
Shannon as Westinghouse is equally as obsessed with inventions, but the difference is that he does wear his heart a little on his sleeve. When slighted or when lies are told, Westinghouse gives his anger a minute to find it’s place before jumping in and making sure the world knows what’s what! Shannon has these unique expressions that I already know this isn’t a character to mess with.
Hoult as Tesla is a man caught in the middle of the Edison and Westinghouse war. Neither will listen or they want something from him, but he holds true to himself. He doesn’t want to be part of the mess; he only wants to share his knowledge with the world but his light is kept dim by the two bigger names.
Holland as Insull also sees the potential of Edison’s work and tries to steer him clear of things that keep his invention from jumping the tracks. It isn’t an easy job, especially when your boss has a strong mind of his own. Shout out to Macfadyen as J.P. Morgan who sits and watches the mess waiting to pick up the pieces.
Other cast include Katherine Waterston as Marguerite Walker, Simon Manyonda as Lewis Latimer, Stanley Townsend as Franklin Pope, John Schwab as Rudolph Young, Conor MacNeill as William Kemmler, Matthew Macfadyen as J.P. Morgan, Damiel Molony as bourke Cockran and Tuppence Middleton as Mary Edison.
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THE CURRENT WAR is a period piece that captured my attention simple because it is a period piece. Having Cumberbatch and Shannon go at it is just icing on top of the cake for me. It is an fascinating look at how we came to throw a switch in our home today with ease and the battle it took to get us here.
I absolutely enjoyed the film from start to finish because it is never clear who was going to win the fight or if there was even a fight. It was more like two highly intelligent men could have made their lives a lot easier if they were so stubborn AND listened to Tesla. I wonder how different our world would have been.
In the end – only one could power the world!