2 hours, 3 minutes
PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.
for thematic material including some disturbing images, and language
Will Smith ...
Dr. Bennet Omalu
Alec Baldwin ...
Dr. Julian Bailes
Albert Brooks ...
Dr. Cyril Wecht
Gugu Mbatha-Raw ...
David Morse ...
Arliss Howard ...
Dr. Joseph Maroon
Mike O'Malley ...
Eddie Marsan ...
Dr. Steven DeKosky
Hill Harper ...
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje ...
Stephen Moyer ...
Dr. Ron Hamilton
Richard T. Jones ...
Paul Reiser ...
Dr. Elliot Pellman
Luke Wilson ...
Sara Lindsey ...
In the early 2000s, a humble, extremely well-educated coroner from
Nigeria, Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), discovered that the repeated blows to the
head suffered by professional football players were causing debilitating
concussions far more often than the National Football League would
admit. After a rash of strange deaths of former NFL players brought on
by mental breakdowns in Omalu's adopted hometown of Pittsburgh and
elsewhere, he puts his pathology skills to work, scientifically making
the case that American football is turning players' brains into jelly.
the system won't pay for the necessary battery of medical tests that
Omalu requests in order to solidify his findings, he is told that he'd
have to pay for it all himself, a cost of many thousands of dollars. As
a Christian man simply seeking to live the idealized "American life"
that he'd heard so much about in Nigeria, the Omalu of Concussion doesn't hesitate to pony up the funds.
test results don't lie; as the many scenes of actors looking into
microscopes, coming up concerned, then looking down again attest,
playing football can eventually be fatal. As played by Will Smith
(respectably attempting a Nigerian accent) the doctor is naive enough initially to
believe that the NFL will be grateful for this information. When he
spends the rest of the film as the target of their powerful retaliation,
it's a prolonged wake up call that the U.S.A. might not be what he
Still, his spirit is unbroken. It helps that he falls in love with
and marries (although not necessarily in that order) a woman played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Their courtship is a functionally cute subplot,
evolving from her moving into his home as a stranger, becoming his
no-nonsense encourager, looking to him as a mentor in a strange land,
and apparently remaining chaste all the while.
Most importantly, Concussion directed by Peter Landesman ("Parkland") moves along well and in an engaging
manner, despite having the burden of constantly having to explain
everything from complex medical conditions, Smith's character
motivations, and the tyranny of the NFL. In spite of several offenses,
not the least of which is a gawd-awful inspiring speech Omalu gives at the end, Concussion is one of those interestingly imperfect films that's nevertheless worth seeing.