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Nerdlocker Movie Review: Concussion

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I couldn’t help but compare this as a lesser version of The Insider starring Russell Crowe. While the intention of each film is wholly different the premise of a single man going against a large corporation, a sort of David v. Goliath situation, is very much the same. A whistleblower with knowledge that could damage the reputation and therefore the wallet of a company is a dangerous person. When Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) decided to take on the NFL and its hidden knowledge of the severity of brain damage from repetitive collisions (concussions) he quickly realized his battle was uphill and around the corner. It was to take everything from him but despite these great odds he pushed through to create awareness of a disease he first published findings of called (no so elegantly) chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE in the gladiators of the National Football League.

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The story is interesting and the movie is adequate but my problem with Concussion is the characters that inhabit this story are far more fascinating than the story itself. For example the man of focus, the very real Dr. Omalu holds a total of eight advanced degrees and board certifications. He attended medical school at the young age of sixteen at a university where he graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. He trained as a forensic pathologist where he became particularly interested in neuropathology. This is a man that went for the stars and hit every one of them he aimed for. The chapter in his life where he took on the NFL is a great story not told in the greatest way. The more you watch him and learn of his past the more you want to know… about him.

It’s clear that a certain emotional note was trying to be plucked here but it never quite reaches it. Its ambitions are outweighed by its lack of ability in carrying it into the endzone. Much like my damn Broncos and their lack of production in the redzone but I swear I’m not bitter about it. Not at all. Anyway…

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The strongest aspects of this film are its characters or more accurately put the real people being portrayed and the actors bringing them to the screen. Will Smith returns to form here giving his strongest performance since Seven Pounds and The Pursuit of Happyness. Alongside him is the always sarcastic but ever convincing Albert Brooks as Smith’s boss and mentor. A fellow colleague in this pursuit of justice for football players is Dr. Julian Bailes played charismatically by Alec Baldwin. These are fascinating people who faced a situation and determined they simply couldn’t walk away. People were dying because of fear of a corporation that doesn’t take kindly to the tarnishing of their brand. His determination was profound and his fearlessness was seemingly unwavering in the face of immense adversity. It just never reaches the level of its characters that go so far beyond this singular story. Acting is the strongest attribute this has but beyond that there just isn’t much. There was potential but it seems it shall remain untapped.

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Rated PG-13 For: thematic material including some disturbing images, and language
Runtime: 123 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Drama, Sport, Biography
Starring: Will Smith, Albert Brooks, Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Morse
Directed By: Peter Landesman

Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3/ Acting: 4.5/ Directing: 3.5/ Visuals: 2.5
OVERALL: 3 Nerdskulls

Check out the trailer below:

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"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard