by Jennifer Fiduccia
Concussion has quite a few big names starring in it, as well as a few I had never heard of.
The main cast is as follows: Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Prema Mutiso, Alec Baldwin as Dr. Julian Bailes, Albert
Brooks as Dr. Cyril Wecht, David Morse as Mike Webster, Matthew Willig as Justin Strezelczyk, Paul Reiser as Dr. Elliot Pellman, Arliss Howard as Dr. Joseph Maroon, Luke Wilson as Roger Goodell, Mike O’Malley as Daniel Sullivan, Hill Harper as Spellman Jones, Eddie Marsan as Dr. Steven DeKosky, Stephen Moyer as Dr. Ron Hamilton, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Dave Duerson.
Dr. Bennet Omalu works at the Pittsburgh coroner’s office as a forensic pathologist along with Dr. Cyril Wecht and Daniel Sullivan. Omalu, a highly educated Doctor hailing from Nigeria, strives to stride in the footsteps of Dr. Wecht, and must contend with the derision thrown his way by Sullivan.
Based on true events, the story follows Omalu in his quest to find out the true cause of death of “Iron Mike” Webster, and subsequently team mates and other football players that seem to go crazy for no obvious reason.
Will Smith takes this role and immerses himself in it. His accent is believable, his mannerisms are believable, his portrayal of the character as a whole drew me and made me BELIEVE it.
The supporting cast are all really really great as well. Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Smiths love interest, Prema is probably one of the quietest characters in the movie, yet she portrays herself as Omalu’s staunch supporter straight through the whole film.
Albert Brooks as Dr. Cyril Wecht gave a brilliant performance as a cut and dry no-nonsense Chief Medical Examiner as well. He supports Omalu’s research even when he must see that it may be detrimental to his own career, and indeed, in the end, his support of Omalu does almost cost him his entire career.
Dr. Omalus research, spending his own money to run testing in order to find the cause of death of Mike Webster, puts him directly in the crosshairs of the NFL. His subsequent discovery of and diagnoses of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in Webster, and other NFL players that died by their own hands or in tragic accidents due to basically going crazy, threatened the NFL and its entire existence, or so they thought.
Alec Baldwin gives a great performance as a man struggling between his love of a sport and his guilt over sending players back into a game when they were hurt. Early in the film he is shown to say “what am I missing”. He has run the tests he knows to run, but cannot get to the bottom of what is clearly affecting his players. He helps Dr. Omalu in his quest to bring the truth before the NFL and the media and the public.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Dave Duerson has only brief moments on film, but his contribution to the movie and his final contribution to Omalus research at the time of his death, helps bring CTE to the forefront of the media eye, which in turn forces the NFL to address the findings, at least ion some level.
Will Smith is up for a Golden Globe for his role in this film and I have to say that in my opinion it is well deserved.
I loved the movie, it had my full attention from beginning to end, and I thought that it was very well done. It showed the seedy underside of the NFL and the extents to which big multi-million dollar companies will go to in order to hide any truths that might threaten their way of doing business. During the movie I murmured under my breath to my husband “This reminds me of the crap the tobacco industry pulled when it was trying to deny that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer”, and I was not surprised when in some of the later clips there were voice overs heard from a congressional hearing basically saying the same thing.
I would give this movie 5 out of 5 stars.