Movie review: Concussion

Director/co-writer Peter Landesman was trying to explain WHY and HOW Dr. Omalu went on this crusade.

Concussion-Movie-PosterThe Daughter, an avid news watcher she is, thinks it’s weird that I was watching football on Week 17 of the National Football League. She thinks it’s a stupid sport, where the chances of getting a concussion, or worse, is quite great.

She’s not entirely wrong. The Wife and I returned to Oneonta on New Year’s Day and got to see the movie Concussion the following day at their mall. It’s about pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith, looking just slightly not like himself) discovering the linkage between brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play.

It’s a steady, unglamorous process, as science is wont to be. The cast is solid: Albert Brooks and Paul Reiser, almost unrecognizable as other doctors, and David Morse as Pittsburgh Steelers retired center Mike Webster, who is the initial driving force of the film. Alec Baldwin, as retired Steelers team doc Julian Bailes, ALMOST ceases to be Alec Baldwin.

The reviews are lukewarm in that the critics thought, perhaps correctly, that the story should have been more about the exploration, and perhaps less about his budding relationship with a woman from church (Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Prema Mutiso), but I think director/co-writer Peter Landesman was trying to explain WHY and HOW Dr. Omalu went on this crusade when he didn’t even know about American football.

I think it’s a good, solid film, 3 stars out of 4. Will Smith deserves his Golden Globe nomination. Yes, the film could have been more dramatic. Still, the National Football League comes off as obstructionists, not looking out for the safety of its current and former players. And it does address the fact that I was watching the NFL that weekend, not because of the mindless violence of the sport, but because of the poetry in motion.

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