The Current War: Director's Cut

Critics Consensus

If it lacks the powerful voltage that its impressive cast suggests, The Current War: Director's Cut represents a significant improvement over previous versions.

60%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 85

80%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 1,126
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Movie Info

Three brilliant visionaries set off in a charged battle for the future in The Current War, the epic story of the cutthroat competition that literally lit up the modern world. Benedict Cumberbatch is Thomas Edison, the celebrity inventor on the verge of bringing electricity to Manhattan with his radical new DC technology. On the eve of triumph, his plans are upended by charismatic businessman George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), who believes he and his partner, the upstart genius Nikolai Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), have a superior idea for how to rapidly electrify America: with AC current. As Edison and Westinghouse grapple for who will power the nation, they spark one of the first and greatest corporate feuds in American history, establishing for future Titans of Industry the need to break all the rules.

Cast

Benedict Cumberbatch
as Thomas Edison
Katherine Waterston
as Marguerite Westinghouse
Michael Shannon
as George Westinghouse
Nicholas Hoult
as Nikola Tesla
Tom Holland (II)
as Samuel Insull
Damien Molony
as Bourke Cockran
Emma Davies
as Dorothy Brookes
Craig Conway
as Warden Durston
Simon Kunz
as Womack
Celyn Jones
as Sherman Quincy
Woody Norman
as Dash Edison
Amy Marston
as Annabelle Worthington
Ekow Quartey
as Journalist 1
Colin Stinton
as Daniel Burnham
Simon Lowe
as Mr. Cannon
Conor MacNeill
as William Kemmler
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News & Interviews for The Current War: Director's Cut

Critic Reviews for The Current War: Director's Cut

All Critics (85) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (51) | Rotten (34)

  • Ultimately, the film sheds light on a fascinating episode in American history; it falls short, however, of being really electric.

    Nov 3, 2019 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • What I think really makes this film special is that it gives more of a role to Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse and talking about the financial risks that both of these men were taking. It kind of sets up the world we see today.

    Oct 28, 2019 | Full Review…
  • A movie about its making would be compelling, dynamic and a livewire rush. The thing itself is a dead end.

    Oct 28, 2019 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • The Current War: The Director's Cut is visually lucid but thematically scattershot.

    Oct 25, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Even the likes of Thomas Edison would have to go back to the lab and do some tinkering to make this one shine.

    Oct 25, 2019 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's all a lot of effort for very little output, sadly. The Current War has lots of flashy lights and whizzy features, but it remains fatally underpowered.

    Oct 24, 2019 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Olly Richards

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Current War: Director's Cut

  • Oct 26, 2019
    The Current War has been on the shelf for two years and now finally getting a release, strangely subtitled "The Director's Cut." Can a movie that has never been released to the public, outside of some festival screenings, really declare its first impression a director's cut? Aren't these supposed to be different, and generally longer versions of the original edit? Regardless, the movie acts like a 19th century version of The Social Network with the battle over the nation's electrical grid up for stakes between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon). You may think Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) is a big player in this game, but you'd be mistaken as he's more a glorified cameo. I appreciated how the history came alive and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl) and his overwhelming sense of style. This is a period film that feels excitedly modern in its presentation, with lots of clever transitions, stylish camera angles, and wide angle photography to go along with a churning score that even reminded me of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' Oscar-winning music. The characterization of these Great Men of Industry also finds ways to humanize them, especially Westinghouse who shuffled his employees into his burgeoning and debt-ridden electrical gambit so he wouldn't have to fire anyone. Edison's portrayal is decidedly charitable, positioning him as a principled family man who rebuffed a shameless J.P. Morgan (a great movie bastard) and easy money for military contracts because he refused to participate in any endeavor that would take life. There's an ironic subplot where Edison, forced into desperation, cooperates with New York state's implementation of a new "more humane" way of executing prisoners, and pinning the deadly results on Westinghouse's alternating electrical current. This is certainly not the Edison of litigious infamy. I enjoyed immersing myself in this older world where the men of science and vision were akin to magicians creating miracles that dazzle. Their competitive race is doomed to be a bit one-sided if you know the history of AC versus DC (it's hard to compete when one option is both better and cheaper) but I was still entertained by their tit-for-tat and how each man responded to pressure and expectations. The screenplay by Michael Mitnick is judicious with its information and very accessible for a lay person. The acting is solid even if many side characters are glorified extras (Tom Holland, Katherine Waterston, Tuppence Middleton). The Current War has been getting some pretty dim reviews, with even dimmer puns, and I don't quite follow why critics are turning out the lights on this movie (sorry). It might not have the stuff of greatness but it's a perfectly enjoyable period piece with attention to character and a panache of style to liven up the dustiest of history. Nate's Grade: B
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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