Is “Concussion” a gritty, realistic look at the discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a piece of anti-NFL propaganda or a star vehicle for Will Smith? In the view of Newsday’s Neil Best, it’s at least one, perhaps two of those things, and while Neil has measured praise for Smith’s turn as Dr. Bennet Omalu (the thespian powerhouse noted for a “believable African accent”), he ultimately calls the film, “about as subtle as — OK, I’ll say it — a blow to the head.”
Most moviegoers looking for Christmas-week entertainment are apt to look for something a tad less depressing than making them feel guilty about one of their favorite indulgences.
This is a tough sell, like telling people that buying Adele albums could be hazardous to her long-term health.
“Concussion” is a mashup of important medical research, one dogged immigrant’s battle against authority and accepted wisdom, plus a love story thrown in to (sort of) lighten things up. Given how recent these events are and how well we know the movie’s bad guys — in this case, mostly the NFL — the lack of nuance is jarring.
Smith seems to be under siege by everyone from the Feds to mysterious people tailing his wife’s car for no directly obvious reason. It’s all just part of the sinister forces seemingly out to get him.
Luke Wilson appears as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with his hair too dark but his disconnected tone about right. Others associated with the league come out of it much worse, including former Jets doctor Elliott Pellman.