Concussion: Film Review

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Will Smith scored a Golden Globe nomination for Concussion and it was released in the U.S. aaaages ago so I was keen to see what the fuss was about and I can safely say that it is such an incredible true story and Smith gives his best performance in years.

He plays Nigerian forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu who discovers a brain abnormality in a former NFL player that caused him to go mad and kill himself at a relatively young age. He coins the medical term CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and blames the disease on the concussions the player received during his American football career. He publishes his findings in a medical journal and immediately riles the NFL – but Omalu keeps finding evidence of CTE in other players who killed themselves (it can only be found in an autopsy). He ends up fighting the NFL with former Pittsburgh Steelers doctor Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin) to prove the causal relationship between the sport and the disease.

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This is story is totally nuts and you cannot believe it is true – the NFL refused to acknowledge the sport caused CTE because they were worried it would affect business and their money-making franchise. They didn’t care about their former players’ dwindling health, which was sometimes incorrectly blamed on early onset Alzheimer’s. All Omalu wanted to do was show them his findings and work with them to find a solution, but they just get defensive and he is bullied, threatened and sent hate because he is seen as attacking an American institution. He is simply doing a public service! Absolutely maddening.

This was all about Omalu and how he is affected by the discovery of CTE, which he frequently wishes he never found. He ploughs a lot of his own money into the research, and it affects his home life with wife Prema (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). The story could have been improved by focusing less on Omalu. I would have liked to have seen more from the players’ side – how they react to the CTE news, if it affected the number of wannabe players etc.

Regardless, it is a powerful story and all the cast bring it. I don’t think Smith deserved an Oscar nomination because his performance is not flawless and his Nigerian accent has been called into question – it sounded alright to me but I’m no expert. I thought Raw was brilliant in a subtle way and you could see Baldwin was conflicted by switching sides from the NFL to Omalu. I definitely recommend.

In cinemas Friday 

Comments

  1. Great review thanks. I agree with your assessment; have a read of my review to compare notes. I’ll be following your work.

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