‘The Current War' movie review: Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Thomas Edison in drama about two titans of electricity

‘The Current War' movie review: Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Thomas Edison in drama about two titans of electricity

The film documents the real-life race between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to power the world with electricity

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Benedict Cumberbatch stars in 'The Current War' as Thomas Edison.
Photo: Dean Rogers/The Weinstein Company

Featuring a star-studded cast, acclaimed drama The Current War takes a look at the pioneers of electricity, and the rivalry between them.

Thomas Edison (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is known throughout the world as the inventor of the light bulb, but what good is a light bulb without electricity to power it? Less known is Edison’s role in developing the electrical system that powers the modern world.

But he was not the only tech titan at that time. His biggest rival was George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), who was backed by Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult). The competition between the two men was intense, and it’s hard to determine who ultimately came out on top – Edison got the fame, Westinghouse got the money.

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Cumberbatch, Shannon, and Hoult are brilliant on screen together. Playing historical figures is never easy, but the trio convey their characters’ ambitions and struggles with a level of authenticity. There are places where the script doesn’t paint Edison quite vividly enough, but Cumberbatch is more than able to make up for these shortcomings.

The film also makes clever use of its electrical theme, using light bulbs in a number of symbolic ways, creating both stunning visuals and helping to drive the plot forward.

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As well as documenting their fierce rivalry, the film also touches on the personal lives of Edison and Westinghouse, which helps to soften the tone of the film. Sadly, there just isn’t enough time to explore these characters with the depth truly needed.

As much as the film celebrates the achievements of Edison, Westinghouse and Tesla, its core message is the importance of holding onto those we love as we pursue our goals.

With a great cast, fascinating premise, and heart-warming message, The Current War is an illuminating watch well worth the ticket fare.

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