Film Review – Concussion (2015)

Concussion

Title – Concussion (2015)

Director – Peter Landesman (Parkland)

Cast – Will Smith, Alex Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Albert Brooks, David Morse, Eddie Marsan, Luke Wilson

Plot – Pathologist and neurosurgeon Dr. Bennet Omalu (Smith) discovers a worrying trend occurring with professional football players and concussion after dealing with the deceased body of ex-player Mike Webster (Morse). Realising his sense of duty, Dr. Omalu sets out to right the wrongs of the past and do something to help affected players in the future and warn the public of the dangers of repeated head traumas on athletes of all codes.

“I can’t tell what you are more afraid of: what you will find or what you won’t”

Review by Eddie on 22/09/2016

It’s more than likely that Oscars were on the mind of Parkland director Peter Landesman and his cast and crew when Concussion was being developed.

A film that deals with American’s favourite past time in the form of the American Football League and the well liked scenario of kindly hearted professionals taking it to the big men, Concussion seems like perfect fodder for Oscar voters and ripe bait for film critics but with a heavy handed delivery and a main protagonist that is just seriously way to nice for real life, Concussion feels like a soft blow where it should’ve been a touchdown.

Telling the fairly intriguing true story of all round nice guy and neurosurgeon Dr. Bennet Omalu and his discoveries on the effects of concussion’s on professional football players, Landesman’s film never lands a killer blow in concerns to either establishing Dr. Omalu as a character that feels overly believable as Will Smith’s portrayal feels rather over drawn, right down to a put upon accent that screams acting not inhabiting, while the actual process of Dr. Omalu’s delving’s into the science of these concussion stories never takes hold and drives the story even though it’s a tale that needs to be told.

Some of Concussion’s most effective scenes occur early on within the piece with David Morse’s underused portrayal of ex-NFL star turned tormented soul Mike Webster creating a huge impact with its confronting nature of the true eventualities of repeated head traumas on a human being.

It would’ve been of great benefit to Concussion to have more of these scenes as Dr. Omalu’s boardroom meetings and confrontations with NFL bigwigs feel undercooked even though Smith goes full throttle with his showpiece scenes filled with overblown dialogue “tell the truth”! and watery eyes. More time examining the harsh realities of these sportsman’s burdens and less time spent developing uninteresting romantic subplots and bit players and Concussion may just have been the film it was intended to be.

There’s insightful information to be gathered from Concussion and sporadic emotional payoffs but surrounded by an overall sense of going through the motions and a miscued development of characters, Landesman’s film never truly had a chance to nail its plays. Coming off as a try hard player rather than a sincere dramatization of some sport defining rulings, Concussion is very much lacklustre drama at its most polished yet uninvolving.

2 slow autopsy’s out of 5

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