Needed a Bigger Spark
Whilst driving back from church, professor of engineering Bob Kearns (Greg Kinnear) noticed how the single speed window wiper screeched when it wasn't raining hard enough so set about finding a way to make the wipers work intermittently. He achieves it with the help of his family and with Gil Previck (Dermot Mulroney) by his side meet with the Ford Company who are interested in his invention. And all is looking good with Bob investing heavily in setting up a factory to manufacture the wipers only for all of a sudden Ford under the direction of Mr. Tyler (Mitch Pileggi) to pull out. Two years later and Bob discovers Ford having launched cares featuring an intermittent wiper which uses the same technology as his patent leading to him taking Ford to court. But Bob's decision to take Ford to court and his obsession with getting justice comes at a cost.
Bob Kearns should be a hero as not only did he improve on an important safety device but in a tale of David versus Goliath took on the big boys in court. Not only should Bob be a hero but his story should be an entertaining one; a double sided story which gives us the creativity of inventing the intermittent wiper followed by Bob's legal battles to get justice and vindication for being basically called a liar by the then executives at the Ford company. Unfortunately "Flash of Genius" starring Greg Kinnear as Bob Kearns fails to do the story justice.
The trouble with "Flash of Genius" is that it fails to bring each part of the story to life. When Bob ponders how to make a wiper blink intermittently like an eye, when the solution is found there is no real sense of thrill, when Bob has to test the wiper with the right sort of water there is no sense of fear that it will fail. There are more of these elements which whilst interesting just fail to grab your attention. Even when Bob decides to go it on his own when his lawyers will only settle you don't get the sense of anger which he must have felt to be faced with a lawyer who won't do his job.
It is a shame as this story about Bob Kearns, the cost of getting justice and public admittance that he invented the intermittent wiper is full of drama. But by the failure to create the right atmosphere it ends up very dry, a walk through of the events without making the human side of it come to life. The knock on effect of this is that despite a good cast the performances end up at times feeling anonymous because of the lack of atmosphere and emotion.
What this all boils down to is "Flash of Genius" is an interesting movie because the story of Bob Kearns, his invention and his legal battles. But unfortunately his story just doesn't come to life making it incredibly dry and lacking in power.