Review: Concussion

By Christian DiMartino

If you have spent any time with me over the past few weeks, you have probably heard about my lack of interest in the new Concussion movie. In fact, I recently wrote a column called “‘Dey Troof’ about ‘Concussion,'” explaining my lack of interest. To summarize, I saw the trailer so many times, I couldn’t sit through it anymore. Will Smith’s accent was stupid, and I felt like the premise didn’t sound that interesting. Not to mention, it looked like total Oscar bait.

I was wrong.

So it brings me great surprise to say that I actually enjoyed Concussion, and that I owed it an apology. The trailer might have been awful, but Concussion is a compelling drama featuring an excellent performance by Smith. If a biopic can work on just its story alone, Concussion would be the case.

The film opens with Steelers player Mike Webster (David Morse) during his football years. Flash forward a few years, and Webster is mentally deteriorating. Not long after that, he is found dead.

Enter Dr. Emmet Omalu (Smith), a Nigerian neurologist who, after looking at Webster’s brain x-ray thing (I’m stupid people, bare with me), knows that something is up. He soon comes to the conclusion that Webster’s football concussions led to his deterioration. Turns out, Webster isn’t the only one.

So Omalu soon tries to explain the situation to the NFL… but it isn’t smooth sailing. In fact, next thing you know, everyone is out to bring him down. So it is pretty much a battle between Omalu vs. The NFL. Alec Baldwin is strong as the Steeler’s doctor, who also believes in Dr. Omalu, even though he is put in a tough position.

The story of Concussion is a fascinating one, even more so than I expected. In fact, it might even be the main reason why I am recommending it, aside from entertainment value. The film is also smart, scientifically and all.

I also owe Smith an apology. No, I don’t think he deserved the Golden Globe nomination over Johnny Depp in Black Mass. I will say though that this really is one of his best performances. I expected his accent to irk me, but after a short while it began to sink in. The “tell dey troof” scene is actually strong, until he says, “tell dey troof.”

To tell you dey troof, Concussion still isn’t flawless. Director Peter Landesman hasn’t heard of subtlety. There are some overblown elements here, and some of it is a little corny. Not to mention, the romance between Smith and Gugu Mbatha-Raw feels kind of slapped together.

But yet I reward Concussion 3 stars anyways, mostly for Smith’s performance, and its gripping story. But yet I also admired Concussion‘s bravery. It doesn’t paint the NFL in a good light at all, really. As one who couldn’t care less about football, I have to say, good work, Dr. Omalu.

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