Flash of Genius, which released in U.S. theatres today, is a lovely David vs Goliath movie based on the real life story of college professor and inventor Robert Kearns’s battle against auto giant Ford Motor Company.
Gregory Kinnear stars as the doughty fighter Bob Kearns who battles the then mighty but now feeble car maker Ford for stealing his ideas for an intermittent windshield wiper.
Simply put, Flash of Genius is a story well told and one of the best movies we’ve watched this year.
Flash of Genius arrives at an apposite moment in America – a few obscenely greedy and stupid scumbags on Wall Street and elsewhere have brought the nation’s economy to its knees prompting the U.S. government to rescue the same rogue financial institutions in a $700 billion bail out using the tax-payer’s money.
Big American corporations whether Enron, Worldcom, ADM, Union Carbide or Ford have always behaved with impunity and reckless disregard and disdain of the consequences of their actions on the average man. Nothing has changed in this respect.
So in an era where the average individual has been all but crushed into acquiescence by Big Business through the brute force of money and power, it’s nice to see an occasional battle where the little guy vanquishes the ugly, evil corporation.
Greg Kinnear is a good actor. Whether as a family man, or the man obsessed with bringing the folks at Ford to justice – despite the heavy odds -for stealing his idea, Kinnear throws in a powerful performance in Flash of Genius that may well land him an Oscar nomination.
Although Ford is initially aggressive toward Kearns’ legal actions, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall and hoping to save itself embarrassment Ford later tries to settle the case by offering him money – first $250,000, later $1Â million and finally $30 million (during the trial).
But Bob Kearns rejects them all because he wants an admission from Ford that it stole his idea. Fat chance.
Besides powerful acting, a nice story and a tight script, good dialogs are crucial to retain audience interest. And Flash of Genius does well on all four counts.
As Kearns puts it:
This is not about money. This is about right and wrong.
In a later scene, Kearns says:
I believe in this little thing called justice. I’m here to tell the bastards – stop.
There are some jarring moments in the movie – for instance as the years go by and everyone around including Bob Kearns and his children are visibly aging his wife Phyllis (Lauren Graham) still looks the same at the end of the movie.
When his friend and partner Gil Privick (Dermot Mulroney) advises Kearns to drop the fight and move on as it’s just a windshield wiper, Kearns responds:
It’s just a windshield wiper to you and maybe to the bartender. To me, it’s the Mona Lisa.
The final court scenes are very well executed, particularly the scene involving Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (we won’t tell you the details because we want you to watch the movie).Â
How nice and befitting that Ford is struggling to survive today. Poetic justice, eh.
N.B: Greg Kinnear (28 films) and Abhishek Bachchan (30 films) have starred in about the same number of films (if you exclude special/guest appearances by Abhishek). What a world of difference exists between the two: Greg Kinnear is an accomplished actor; Abhishek Bachchan is a piece of turd as far as acting.