A movie about football with the actual game of football not being the focus may seem boring to some on paper. Although the gridiron action is at a bare-minimum in the new film Concussion starring Will Smith, this film is anything but boring. Based on a true story, the movie examines the concussion problem in the NFL, it is a fascinating and sad-watch that showcases Will Smith in his strongest acting role in years, in my opinion.
Concussion starts out in a very simple way, it shows a forensic pathologist named Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) working in the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office. He has a man show up on his table after his untimely death; that man is Hall of Fame inductee and former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster (David Morse), whose life went into a complete tailspin. The good doctor begins to investigate the cause of death which leads him into a web of conspiracy theories about the NFL, he believes that the organization is not being truthful with its players about the risks involved playing the game America loves so much.
Will Smith is excellent as the foreign doctor who doesn’t care about football and knows nothing about it. All he cares about are his patients and why their lives crumbled into pieces after they left the game they had played since they were small children. Smith gets to play many sides of the doctor through his investigation that includes curious, confused, paranoid and compassionate, even though he’s seen by many as an enemy of the country’s favorite sport. Smith gets to play the hero even if he feels like the villain to his peers.
Smith is backed in Concussion by strong supporting roles from Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks and a small, but surprisingly well-acted role of Mike O’Malley whose fandom is an irritant during Bennet’s quest for his breakthrough diagnosis. Baldwin is especially good as a former team doctor that wants to help even if he knows it could tear down the empire he loves so much. The cast all perform well, but make no mistake. Concussion is Smith’s show.
For a movie where football is pretty much absent, you’ll still find yourself enthralled viewing Concussion with the little known doctor from Pittsburgh taking on the ultimate pro sports league and its authority figures at the top. Concussion is a film about uncovering the ugly truth that will make you think twice about letting your children strap on a helmet in the search of that pigskin glory.
Overall, I give Concussion 3.5 out of 4 stars.