Good morning, before I go in depth about the film Concussion, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Russell Goodacre and I’m currently a sophomore at Shepherd University. At Shepherd I work with the Shepherd University football team as a Quality Control Coach. I’d like to thank Fred Filberg and the rest of the blog staff for giving me the opportunity to write this piece.
Concussion, directed by Peter Landesman, is a true story that takes place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania around September of 2002. Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith) is a forensic pathologist from Nigeria who works in the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office. After a courtroom scene where Dr. Omalu takes the stand providing key evidence for a death row case, meanwhile former Pittsburgh Steelers great Mike Webster (played by David Morse) is seen having difficulties with everyday life, living without a home. After meeting with former Steelers doctor Julian Bailes (played by Alec Baldwin) about his current problems, Webster passes away (at the age of 50) and his body is transported to the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office. Dr. Omalu had never heard of Mike Webster or American football. As with any case, Dr. Omalu interviews family members and friends to try to get a better picture of the death. In Webster’s case Dr. Omalu can already tell Webster’s teeth had been pulled and put back in with super glue. That gave Omalu a dark look at the cycle where players do anything possible to stay “healthy” for Sunday. Dr. Omalu asked to do more tests on Webster’s brain against the resistance of the rest of the doctors in the Coroner’s Office. After getting brain samples Dr. Omalu went further in analysis.
Dr. Omalu notices that in a span of weeks, Andre Waters, Terry Long and Justin Strzelczyk all committed suicide. Why were these young, athletic NFL players dying even though they were supposedly healthy? After looking at each of their brains, Dr. Omalu teams up with Dr. Steven DeKosky (played by Eddie Marsan) and Dr. Elliot Pellman (played by Paul Reiser) as they write the report about the new discovery chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The NFL was not happy about the findings by Dr. Omalu and they laughed at the fact that Omalu was challenging them. The NFL invites Dr. Omalu and Dr. Bailes to talk about the findings in Chicago. When they get to Chicago Dr. Bailes tells Dr. Omalu the NFL doesn’t want Dr. Omalu to talk at the meeting or even be in the room. After the meeting ends, Dr. Omalu asks Dr. Bailes how it went and the NFL lied to the media about what Dr. Bailes said to the NFL(in typical, corrupt fashion).
Fast Forward three years later (2005), Dr. Omalu and family move to California. Dr. Bails calls Omalu in the middle of the night one night to say that former player, player representative who served on the joint league-union disability board to determine if former players could receive benefits for playing football if they had medical problems, and not a fan of the original findings by Dr. Omalu. After this occurrence NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell (played by Luke Wilson) invites Omalu to talk to the NFL about CTE. After a moving speech by a Dr. Omalu the film slows down it shows clips of congress trying the NFL and Goodell’s response is how the NFL is studying and trying to make the game safer for all players.
Will Smith’s role as Dr. Omalu in my opinion is phenomenal and deserves an Oscar (as a non-movie person that’s saying a lot). Smith definitely perfected Dr. Omalu’s voice and personality. Smith is just brilliant as Dr. Omalu. Alec Baldwin’s role as Dr. Julian Bailes was very good although I do wonder how Baldwin got the role in this movie after he has previously hosted the NFL Honor’s award. He has also narrated the NFL Network documentary America’s Game. I just see his role in the movie as odd since he’s been involved with the NFL previously. The actors who portrayed the NFL former players with CTR did an excellent job in showing how CTE can affect each facet of a person’s life. Credit also goes to the actors/actresses of the families who lost loved ones as I think they did a wonderful job portraying how CTE effects families that go through the issues of dealing with a love one who has CTE.
I was not a big fan of Luke Wilson’s role as Rodger Goodell. While Wilson did show some personality of Goodell, but I couldn’t get a good grasp of the Roger Goodell we have come to know. Luke Wilson is well known for his role in various comedies, so it is just odd that he was picked to play Roger Goodell.
Overall this is very good eye opener movie. The flow of the film in my opinion was wonderful. I think Concussion will help the game of football become safer since now the NFL will now have to pay attention, the NFL is under attack once again(and rightly so). CTE is a very serious disease that kills people as a result of serious repeated blows to the head. This is a dark topic that needs to be taken very seriously and I believe Concussion is a step in the right direction, which will help make football safer. Some NFL fans and employees will not like this movie, but this is a very important film. I just wish more critics agreed with me, the film is sitting at 60 % on Rotten Tomatoes, that isn’t good enough. Like I said earlier Concussion gives a good visual of how CTE affects families and not just the individual person who has it. I totally love Will Smith’s performance and it will help raise CTE awareness. I give Concussion a 3.25/4.
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