Concussion (2015)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on December 28, 2015 @

Concussion may have no target audience.

Not many NFL fans will want to see it. Almost all fans want to see our team's players in the game whether they're "cussed" or not. Forget "protocol."

Fantasy players don't care about concussions when their title is up for grabs.

After he lost his Fantasy championship, rapper Snoop Dogg gave an obscene rant on Instagram about Eagles' coach Chip Kelly, "Kill yourself, you dumbass coach."

Snoop Dogg had lost the championship by 3 points, 112-109. Neither team had any Eagles' starters. But his opponent had Arizona's defense against the Eagles, which outscored his Panthers' defense 18-4.

Such is the mentality of a Fantasy loser. Or a team's fandom. Kelly has been scalded by Philly fans.

And the NFL is trying to dilute the attention on concussions. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is a hireling of the team owners, so he is totally bottom line instead of head trauma.

The media has covered the film, but a lot of it is: "I haven't seen the movie..." and then an opinion.

If the NFL and its fans are not a target audience, what about Will Smith? But Concussion is not aimed at Will Smith's usual fan base. He doesn't blow things up - except x-rays. Will Smith plays an actual pathologist/neurologist. He gives a strong performance as Bennet Omalu, with an accent influenced by the Nigeria-born doctor.

Concussion, based on an article in GQ by Pittsburgher Jeanne Marie Laskas, is the story of how over the years some of the Steelers' players had suffered head injuries, and how Dr. Omalu pursued the reality behind them.

Perhaps the most shocking and enlightening aspect of the film is the terrible fates of several Pittsburgh Steeler players. David Morse gives a powerful, memorable performance as Steelers' iconic center Mike Webster, who was destroyed by brain damage. Others followed down his dire path. It's ironic that one of them was on the NFL's disability board.

Concussion has a gifted cast. Supporting Smith's substantial performance and Morse's agonized one are solid portrayals by Alec Baldwin, as a one-time Steelers' physician, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Perma Mutiso, who married Bennet. Albert Brooks is terrific as Dr. Cyril Wecht, who oversaw Omalu's growing commitment.

Peter Landesman directs serviceably.

Concussion is a worthy film, but it's unlikely to have much audience appeal.

Go Eagles.

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