“Concussion” marks another dramatic turn for Will Smith, and it marks one of his boldest and most powerhouse performances to date.
Even if the rest of the movie is not on par with Smith, it mostly makes it to the end zone with him carrying the movie on his shoulders.
Smith stars in this real-life story of Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who made valiant efforts to prove that there is a direct correlation between head trauma and injuries football players suffer on the field. His relentless research and discoveries are generally unpopular with the NFL, and the league does everything in its power to persuade him to give up.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Smith’s love interest as a foreigner, like himself, from Nigeria who is looking for both residence and employment, and Smith takes her under his wing.
Alec Baldwin plays a doctor who thoroughly believes Bennet’s theories and is convinced to stand by his side while he battles the NFL. Smith and Baldwin face off in some memorable exchanges.
Together, they make the discovery that the repeated head trauma football players suffer leads to a condition known as CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
As I said before, the real anchor for this film is Smith.
He once again brings his winning combination of intelligence, charm and humor to the forefront, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up a contender for Best Actor.
Not to mention, his mastery of an African accent is superb. This is a role that I would generally associate with the likes of Denzel Washington.
As for the rest of the film, there are some good performances by Baldwin and Albert Brooks, who plays another M.D., but somehow they don’t always elevate themselves to Smith’s level.
The movie works well even if it does feel too conventional.
I think it safely lands a quiet touchdown.
(Rated PG-13 for thematic material, including some disturbing images, and language.)
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.