CONCUSSION Review 3 stars out of 5

Based on a true story, Concussion brings to light a real life problem many pro-athletes (and not just NFL players) face later on in life.  After the early death of a now disgraced former favorite Pittsburgh Steelers player, Nigerian born Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) embarks on a quest to find out what caused Steelers former Center Mike Webster to go mad.  He discovers repetitive head trauma and concussions can lead to a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which in turn leads to irritability, depression, forgetfulness, and a host of other problems.  CTE can’t be diagnosed until after someone is dead and you can examine their brain.  After several players die or commit suicide, Dr. Omalu co-authors an article in a medical journal about CTE, but the NFL tries to dismiss it. con1

Dr. Omalu is threatened by fans and supposedly the NFL and the CIA/government itself.  NFL executives don’t want the multi-billion dollar sport that now owns Sundays to be jeopardized.  The NFL is compared to God and big tobacco in the same movie. con2

While the movie itself was good (a little slow in some parts for me), I was most impressed by Will Smith.  This isn’t your I Am Legend/Independence Day/Bad Boys movie star, nor is it your Fresh Prince of Bel Air music star, it’s a to be taken seriously Will Smith.   Smith has had a handful of other dramatic acting roles that he was nominated for, including Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness, but if Leonardo DiCaprio weren’t due this year, I think Will might have stood a chance for a best actor Oscar.  He is already nominated for the Golden Globes Best Actor Award.  At first I didn’t even know it was Will Smith.  He looks different and convincingly takes on a Nigerian accent.  Alec Baldwin is a near mirror match for the real life Dr. Julian Bailes, former NFL team physician.  I really like the actress who played Dr. Omalu’s resident turned wife.  Gugu Mbatha-Raw, from Beyond The Lights, is disturbingly pretty and had one of my favorite scenes in encouraging her man to tell the truth no matter who tries to cover it up. con4

Although it may have taken awhile for Dr. Omalu’s message to reach the masses, it definitely has with the arrival of Concussion.  The NFL is currently in the midst of settling a lawsuit brought by former NFL players who weren’t informed of the affects playing could have on them.  For Mothers with sons who want to play football, Concussion could play more like a horror story.  And in a crowded movie release season that will see a new Star Wars, a new Quentin Tarantino film, and a possible award winning performance by Leonardo DiCaprio, many men who idolize football and did or do play football, may not want to listen to the warning message Concussion carries.   

Tammy R

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