I love American football. Even though I am not an American, I still love it. I don’t have to be an American to appreciate its beauty and power and the sheer zeal and fitness of the men involved not to mention the amount the strength and passion that goes into each and every game. The very thought of the game not existing makes me sad. Well I can only imagine what effect it might have had on the people of America when a rank outsider named Bennet Omalu told them that Football was killing athletes and that it must be stopped. His discoveries not only shook the sport to its core but also raised a vital question that should our entertainment and marvel be at the cost of lives of hundreds of Athletes? That’s what Concussion brings to the table.
Starring Will Smith as Bennet Omalu, the man who came up with the concept of CTE, a term he used to coin the condition that arose out of the fatal blows to the head that the Football players received throughout their careers and the effects that it had on the players’ brains. He rubbished the existing theories that stated that the concussions received during games are hardly harmful and that the risk factor was not even 1%. Omalu was drawn into the issue when he was en-tasked with performing a post mortem on one of the premier Football players who had gone crazy and committed suicide. He received stern opposition to his work but with the help and support of his boss, he was able to do what he wanted to and successfully came up with the theory. Soon other victims were unearthed. However his discoveries meant him going face to face with the NFL. NFL at that time was an organization that owned a day of the week and they did whatever was in their strength to crucify his theory and de-credit him. They succeeded for a while.
The film takes a very serious and almost documentary type approach to the whole issue. Apart from the manner in which it is shot which is by far
very cinematic and beautiful to look at, the story remains very close to the documentary style. There is very little in terms of entertainment value and it is exposition heavy in more than one sequence. Also the story takes its time to develop and doesn’t move from A to B to C in what can be called a brisk manner. But what more than makes up for all these shortfalls is a ravishing act from Will Smith. I will start off with the accent. Will plays a Nigerian who off course has an accent and we all know too well how Will sounds but here his accent sticks and after a while you accept his accent and it becomes an important part of his act. It doesn’t feel out of place and for once feels very real.
The film is very exposition heavy but those expositions actually become the highlights of the film thanks to the way Will Smith acts those out. I was in love with his act from the word go. He is able to become Omalu and also the fact that the story is about one of the most sensational discoveries of recent times only made the screenplay that much more engrossing. It may not be an entertainer but it sure is one hell of a subject to sit through. The makers successfully present the issues in a manner that one and all will understand. The post mortems are a cringe worthy thing for the masses but here the director and the cinematographer successfully strike a balance between what is to be shown and what not. That actually accentuates some of the “to be cringe worthy” sequences to interesting and absorbing sequences that one and all could sit through without the need of puking or throwing away their pack of popcorn.
The supporting cast is solid and Alec Baldwin is the best thing about it. His communions with Will Smith’s Bennet Omalu are simply great especially towards the end when Omalu questions his reason to be on his side. The film has a happy ending even though the subject isn’t one to end with one but the director gives hope and also keeps a concern in the manner in which he ends the film. Concussion is not particularly a great film but it sure is well made and has enough material to keep you hooked. Will Smith’s searing act and the basic premise of the film are its biggest pluses. Alec Baldwin is great. On the flip side, the film is slow in bits and has low entertainment quotient. I also feel that the film lost out on extracting the sheer enormity of the issue and deals with it in a somewhat level headed manner which was not practically a great thing. There was need for some more shock value and gusto in the narrative. I will give it 3 stars out of 5 and out of those 2 stars is for Will Smith alone.
Rating : 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)