Adversity is where CONCUSSION shines brightest
I remember very well when the NFL found itself tangled in a web of media scrutiny over CTE. Embarrassment is an understatement for the kind of damage control they lashed out millions for in order to keep some calm and remain relevant among America. CONCUSSION presents that story from the inside out. The flick is based on the true story of the doctor who discovered CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in football players, and the uphill battle he faced in bringing the information to the public.
CONCUSSION is a straight forward piece that wants to be as important as the topic it’s presenting. The problem with approaching a flick of this manner though is that it immediately sets a precedent for it to be as heavy and perhaps influential in its impact as the topic it’s discussing. CONCUSSION isn’t that. Will it start conversations? Sure, and if it does its job well enough it may even convert a few football freaks to the belief there are serious long-lasting repercussions to playing the game, but as a piece of art is it as effective as it sets out to be? Sometimes.
Through writer/director Peter Landesman the flick has some extremely inspiring moments as it attempts to not simply irritate those who are huge fans of the sport, but attempts to logically explain why we need to step back and take a serious look at if the type of lifestyle these men experience down the road is worth a few hours of entertainment on Sunday.
Other times, in between the scenes of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) drawing some kind of scientific conclusion or making his case with an NFL board member, the film tends to have a weird calm that concerns itself with a romantic subplot that doesn’t connect, or one too many time lapses that aren’t clearly explained. Where the flick does tend to stand out are in scenes that feature Smith’s protagonist pushing back against any force that comes between him and his research. That stands out beautifully and pleasantly accompanied by an engaging supporting cast.
Had the narrative just focused on the intensity between man versus machine, CONCUSSION would have been a lot more solid in my opinion. Will Smith can carry a film, but in the end, it is what it is. Not a total loss as it serves an interesting, thought-provoking subject-matter, so for that reason alone it’s worth a glance. Whether it resonates depends on the kind of heart one viewing this film has, otherwise, it’s just another biopic that’ll generate a hashtag, but forgotten as soon as playoffs start in January.
Grade: B / Genre: Biopic, Drama / Rated: PG-13 / Run Time: 2:03
Starring: Will Smith, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Albert Brooks, Paul Reiser, Alec Baldwin
Directed by: Peter Landesman