CONCUSSION Movie Review by The Commander


2 (out of 4 stars)


American football is an institution.  So is mom and apple pie.  It's as important to Americans as the Royal Family is to the British and King Bhumibol Adulyadej is to Thailand.  Say anything negative about them and they can haul you off and put you in jail.


The only problem is our American institution of football is tending to break more than just the equipment the players wear.  It's causing damage to the players in a way we never suspected.  Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (otherwise known as CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease found in people who have suffered repetitive brain trauma, including sub-concussive hits to the head, which do not show immediate symptoms.  CTE was discovered in 2005 by forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, while working at the department of physiology at the University of Pittsburgh.


While he tried to bring his discovery to the attention of the NFL, it fell on deaf years.  After all, announcement of this disease and the cause-and-effect could bring down an American institution.  It's your classic David and Goliath story, with the main difference being that Omalu wasn't trying to destroy football.  He was merely trying to bring attention of the disease to light, so that the players could decide whether they wanted to continue playing, knowing the risks.  Of course, any acknowledgement of CTE meant that playing football would be dangerous, causing death.  It probably wouldn’t go over too well with young player’s mothers.  It could end up becoming a snowball effect that could wipe out the future of the game. 


Nah, Americans love violence.  Fights, guns, gladiators, boxing, UFC, etc.  As a country, we love to see people getting beaten up.  We even like car chases, car crashes, as in NASCAR, etc.  So I think the institution of violent sports is going to be around for a long time to come.


Will Smith gives a wonderful performance as tender and caring Dr. Omalu.  Much of the film is based around his personal life and his passion for his work, and not around the conflict with the NFL.  Basically, it was a more compassionate version of the TV series, “Quincy M.D.” (now available on reruns on MeTV).


While I enjoyed this movie, I didn't feel there were any hard-hitting moments that portrayed the difficulty of trying to expose this disease to the world.  While it's based on a true story, I felt that the script was lacking, including the ending, and you only came out with a blasé feeling at the end.  There is no reason to see this movie in the theater.  Watching it at home on your TV will be sufficient, as there's nothing cinematically that requires the big screen.  It's mostly a dramatic piece that moves along at a slow but steady pace.  


In the end, you all know what happened.  The NFL has disbanded football, apple pie is now illegal, all the world’s monarchy is dead—long live the King.  Yeah, right!

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