Saturday, December 26, 2015

[Review] Concussion

Head trauma in the National Football League has been a rising topic of concern, and the Will Smith-starring Concussion arrives right during the thick of it. You get the impression that the film might've served better as an ESPN '30 for 30' documentary, rather than an Oscar-bait drama.

It's based on the true story of Bennet Omalu (Smith), a highly renowned doctor from Nigeria who discovered CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy)--a neurodegenerative disease often found in football players due to repeated hits to the head. At the time, this was far from forefront information, so Concussion profiles Dr. Omalu's battle to bring it to the public.

Will Smith is good here and there are a couple of really good scenes, but his attempt at a deep African accent can't help but sound a bit distracting. The character's determination, selflessness, and genuine care about his patients is commendable, which makes him very likable all the way through. The pacing falls on the slower side, and lot of the scenes involve Omalu looking at microscope slides, medical books, x-rays, and conducting tests and experiments, which aren't the most compelling things to see on the big screen, unless you're super into that stuff. Also, if you get a queasy when seeing surgical procedures, this probably won't be the first film you'll want to rush to this holiday season.

The film isn't necessarily out to proclaim "FOOTBALL IS BAD IT SHOULD BE BANNED", but it's more-so bringing about awareness to the potential brain damage the sport can cause, as well as calling for a significant increase in safety measures. It adds more power to its message by showing the recent news stories of players like Junior Seau at the end, who committed suicide. But despite Concussion's weighty topic, it's boring fare for a film. And maybe, someone like Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball, The Social Network, Steve Jobs) could've brought more intrigue into this screenplay. If anything, it's a decent discussion piece that will result in many different conclusions.


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