Sunday, December 27, 2015
Review: Concussion (2015)
'Concussion' Plays Like A Field Goal Rather Than A Touchdown
Concussion follows the true story of neurologist Dr. Bennett Omalu (Will Smith) who, when performing an autopsy on a deceased football player, has discovered a condition that has caused mental illness on football players. After giving this condition a name, Omalu finds himself going to war against the NFL in order for more people to become aware of this condition.
I'll start with where the film scores the most points. That is Will Smith's performance. This is a rare performance where it didn't feel like I was watching Will Smith on screen as he really disappears into the role of Bennett Omalu. I would say that this is some of his best work. I also loved Albert Brooks as Omalu's boss Cyril. I thought he stole every scene he was in. Even Alec Baldwin was really good. One thing that I appreciated is how he attempted to give his character, who used to work for the Steelers, a grey area. He knows that the condition is bad, but still wants the game to continue.
The first down is that even though the film is about the fast-paced football, it has the pacing of a golf game. In other words, it is very slow and in fact, it never knew when it was going to end.
The second down is that, while Alec Baldwin gives his character a grey area, the film doesn't really do the same for the NFL. In fact, the NFL is almost painted with devil horns and as the villain. Besides Alec Baldwin, there is hardly another character within the NFL that tries to present reasoning for ignoring the concussion problem. As a result of this, when audiences watch the film, they'll realize that this is a problem, but there isn't much of an emotional impact on them.
The third down is just how underutilized some of the other actors are. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Omalu's wife, is given absolutely nothing to do than be the steely supportive wife, but that's through no fault of her own. Other actors like Luke Wilson, Eddie Marsan, Stephen Moyer, and Adewale Akkinouye-Agbaje are also very underused.
Overall, Concussion is a well-intended yet incredibly flawed showcase for Will Smith. It's a nice "take your vitamins" movie that informs you of the concussion problem. But it's not something you need to rush out and see.