Like any big business, the sports industry is a multi-billion dollar entity. Woe-betide anyone going up against it as most huge corporations rely on clean, positive reputations. ‘Concussion’ explores what happens when a doctor dares expose some of its injustices. A true story fitting into any ‘David vs. Goliath’ motif, it shows how bravely speaking out can create a better ethos from which to live.
Gifted Nigerian doctor Bennett Omalu (Will Smith) has immigrated to America to start afresh. Working in a top Pittsburgh hospital, he discovers a new football related brain trauma he n CTE. Notifying his colleagues including Julian (Alec Baldwin) and Cyril (Albert Brooks), he soon hits a brick wall in the form of the powerful National Football League. Denying all responsibility, they soon turn the screws on Bennett as he refuses to stay silent about the deadly condition.
When he wants to Will Smith can act. His performance in ‘Concussion’ makes it watchable in spite of a script pulling its punches. His role as Bennett is very sympathetic as the doctor’s methodical nature reveals long-buried secrets. Bennett’s conviction in pursuing the NRL is commendable pitted against a mega-conglomerate doing what it can to stop the truth from coming out. ‘Concussion’ also shows Bennett’s desire to integrate himself into an American lifestyle despite battling a symbol of his newly adopted country.
Where ‘Concussion’ falters is its lack of impact. Events are told in a standard fashion with the over-earnest narrative failing to linger in the memory. The blows landed on the NRL chiefs are only half-hearted as if even the film studio was afraid of being too hard on them. Ironic given the subject matter with thinly drawn characters derived from the bio-pic playbook. Peter Landesman’s direction also fails to draw out the emotional depths the story needs, making ‘Concussion’ feel like a ‘disease of the week’ TV movie.
There’s an interesting movie waiting to be made about the corrupt practices of the NRL, although ‘Concussion’ isn’t it. Although raising some intriguing issues, it tells them in a less impactful way. Only occasionally does it fire with dodgy big business still deserving of scorn.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 6
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.