“Concussion” | Movie Review

Poster Concussion 2015Grade: (A-)

A compelling David & Goliath tale that captures the courage of a man that stood behind his work and ethics in the face of a multi-billion dollar corporation. 

“CONCUSSION” stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a seemingly unknown coroner in Pittsburgh who mistakenly uncovers truths about the brain damage that can occur from the violence of football and the extended heath risks that come from repeated concussions. Something that puts him at odds with an american past-time and the most popular and profitable sport in the country.

Will Smith pulls off his best performance since “Ali” and could be considered Oscar worthy in his portrayal of Dr. Bennet Omalu. I have been a fan of the NFL since is was a kid and many of the players referenced in this story-line I can remember seeing play. So it hit home to learn how their lives turned up, a feeling that was only one facet of the the film that make it the excellent biopic I felt it turned out to be.

When the word this film came about I think many people immediately assumed it would be an NFL-centric sports-drama that would expose dark secrets of America’s most hallowed sport. I can easily admit I was one of them, I expected a solid performance from Smith, he delivered, but as far as the script was concerned it was not the NFL smear campaign many were hoping for. While it clearly did not paint the league in a positive light, the NFL was not the target of the script, nor the focus. The film was about the highly intelligent Dr. Bennet Omalu, his discovery of CTE, as well as the events that took place and their affects on his life after his studies went public. Something that made this film extremely enjoyable and thought-provoking.Stills Concussion 2015 4

This film did not tell me anything I did not already know about the concussion issues in the NFL and the overall views of the sports safety. It did however fill in some details that were not as public in the media as others. The script felt like it stuck to the facts and did so without taking any clear punches at the NFL. Yet, I can easily see why the league would not like to have seen this film released as it without a doubt put the information out to a mass audience that doesn’t listen to sports radio or keep up with sports related news.

The story of Dr. Bennet Omalu was well captured, and after it was over I felt like I got to know who this man was, his beliefs, dreams and ethics and it was extremely compelling. Will Smith nailed this role and when accents can make or break a performance, Smith delivers a flawless portrayal and makes you completely forget this was the ‘Fresh Prince’, something that, for me, deserves praise.   Stills Concussion 2015 2

Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks and David Morse were all incredible in their roles as well. Morse was awesome in his smaller part and did an excellent job of setting up the plot with an emotional intensity. Baldwin, and Brooks brought the film skilled veteran performances that created characters you can connect with and learn about without much backdrop. Simply through their delivery and the skill of the writing, you can get to know more about these characters and it holds your attention. Baldwin, Brooks and Smith all have great chemistry with one another and it results in some intriguing dialogue between them.

Something this film did an excellent job of was adapting the heavily sports related material to a wider audience. Even if you are not a fan of football or know anything about the concussion issues the sport is facing, one can still find enjoyment in this biopic. The script was well balanced giving a seamless blend of character acting, the development of who Dr. Omalu was, his beliefs and dreams that motivated his actions, and it all generates a swift paced film that never will bore you despite being dialogue heavy.

In the end “Concussion” is a success in my opinion. It was not the NFL bashing flick many had hoped for, but what it gives the viewer is an inspirational tale that anyone can relate to. I would give this one the 9.0 rating based on my love of the sport that the plot centered on, yet even those who are not familiar with the source material can appreciate the well organized story-line and find some aspect of it that will garner attention. Will Smith shines and the rest of the cast bring their best to make this one easily worth the time.

– Starring –

Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Morse, Arliss Howard, Mike O’Malley, Hill Harper, Richard T. Jones, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, Stephen Moyer, Paul Reiser, Luke Wilson

– Directed By –

Peter Landesman

Time: 123 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For thematic material including some disturbing images, and language)