‘Concussion’ doesn’t hit audience as hard as expected

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By Joe Matthews, Staff Writer

The release of “Concussion” was supposed to turn excitement for Super Bowl 50 to concern for the health of the athletes. With the biggest months of football ahead, “Concussion” had a chance to slam the NFL and put NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in his place when it comes to player safety. Unfortunately, although the movie was good in the means of entertainment, it was soft when it came to the actual issue.

“Concussion” is the personal story of Doctor Bennet Omalu who discovered and named Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)—a chemical protein in the brain that is produced from continuous blows to the head and causes the brain to deteriorate.

Working as a pathologist, Omalu’s systematic work ethic frustrated people but it became the thing that changed football forever.  Hall of Famer Mike Webster arrived on his autopsy table, and wanting to know the full story behind the death of a seemingly-healthy 50-year-old man, Omalu went against his authority and did several brain tissue tests, thus uncovering the secret the NFL had been hiding for years: continuous head trauma can be very harmful to the brain, especially later in life.

Starring Will Smith as Omalu, “Concussion” strayed from the hard-hitting dramatized documentary it was portrayed as. Instead, it tried to incorporate too much audience relatability. Tying in an unnecessary romance between Omalu and a young migrant woman—wife-to-be Prema Mutiso played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw—the film lost its balance. Juggling between Omalu’s personal story, to the romance, to the corporate takedown, “Concussion” lost the originality it had.

Though it didn’t give the NFL a free pass, the film really didn’t leave the audience as heated as they should be. Following Omalu, who wasn’t granted access into meetings, the audience was unable to see or hear the debates between Commissioner Roger Goodell, played by Luke Wilson, and Omalu’s partner Dr. Julian Baile, played by Alec Baldwin. Instead we were forced to watch as Omalu waited in hotel lobbies, giving no light to the story. This caused the movie to lose the emotional factor brought on by the topic.

Overall, based strictly on entertainment, the movie was quite good. Smith displayed an impressive Nigerian accent, Baldwin was excellent in his role as a doctor, and though she wasn’t incorporated as much as she should have been, Mbatha-Raw gave an emotional performance as Omalu’s wife. However, when it comes to calling out the NFL, “Concussion” lost its way, getting caught up in things that wouldn’t be relevant if it were really trying to make a statement.