Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Concussion - Movie Review

Concussion, written and directed by Peter Landesman, is based off of a GQ article by Jeanne Marie Laskas called Brain Game. The film features acting performances by Will Smith, Albert Brooks, Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Morse, Arliss Howard, Mike O'Malley, Paul Reiser, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Luke Wilson.

The Story:
Dr. Bennet Omalu (Smith) is an accomplished forensic neuropathologist and an American immigrant who has been spending his days investigating cause of death scenarios in a Pittsburgh hospital. After being given the task of determining what caused the mental decline and eventual demise of a hall of fame football player, Dr. Omalu decides there is much more going on in the world of professional football than anyone else is remotely aware of or even willing to consider. After making some key discoveries, he learns that he is about to have an extremely uphill battle in building awareness of and creating solutions for the long term effects of repeated head trauma cause by playing the most popular sport in the country.

The Review:
If you are any type of fan of the National Football League or have any sort of concern about the well being and long term health of professional athletes then this is a movie you must see. The subject matter is so important and the film really shines a light on some very interesting topics that the NFL and other organizations have been and are still trying to keep under wraps. After watching this movie, you will understand why the referees are told to call so many penalties in the interest of player safety even when it seems to take away from the fundamental spirit of the game. You will look at the league in a whole new light and you will have a better awareness of what players go through as they are bashing into each other over and over on the field and why there are very strict concussion protocols that have only recently been put in place.

Yes, this is an important film, but it is also a very well crafted and entertaining film. With this role, Will Smith has delivered the performance of his career and I imagine his portrayal of Dr. Omalu is pretty spot on. Smith and Landesman do a great job of taking you down the proverbial rabbit hole of what turns out to be quite the scandalous situation with a gripping story that will keep you asking why and wondering what has been done and what will be done about issues in the NFL regarding player safety. Other bright spots in the production include Gugu Mbatha-Raw who plays Dr. Omalu's strong willed and ever supportive wife Prema Mutiso as well as Albert Brooks who is fantastic as Dr. Omalu's hard nosed yet very understanding boss, Dr. Cyril Wecht.

The Verdict:
Politics of the entertainment industry being what they are, Concussion will most likely not receive much consideration come awards time even though it would be a more than worthy submission in several different categories. We all love the NFL, but this movie will definitely make you think twice when your instincts tell you to cheer for that bone crushing helmet to helmet collision. You will also come away with a better understanding of why player safety is so important and what it means to the real lives of those men underneath all the protective gear.


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