Concussion (DVD) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Peter Landesman
Distributor: Sony
Duration: 118 minutes

Concussion (DVD) – Movie Review

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Good: Strong acting performances
Bad: Focus is a bit too much on Omalu's life, rather than on his work
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(1 votes)
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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

American football is a sport that is so influential in American society that it must have come as a shock when Dr. Bennet Omalu published his findings back in 2002 about the relation between playing football on a long term basis, and the development of mental instability at a relatively young age. Nonetheless, the facts don’t lie, but luckily nowadays these facts are also acknowledged and taken into consideration, something that was not self-evident at first.


Concussion tells the true story of Dr. Bennett Omalu (Will Smith), a neuropathologist in Pittsburgh. Omalu is a highly educated Nigerian doctor who came to America several years ago in the hopes of it opening doors for his career. One day, he gets called to the coroner’s , as there is a body that he needs to examine as soon as possible. It turns out to be Mike Webster (David Morse), the famous American football player who played a big part of his career as a center with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Webster became mentally more and more unstable the last years of his life, which is why Omalu can hardly believe that there seems to be nothing wrong with his brain. He decides to dig deeper, at his own expense, and finds out that Webster was in fact suffering from a condition he calls ‘chronic traumatic encephalopathy’, in short CTE, which means that, because of the multiple concussions Webster had during his career, his frontal lobe got damaged, causing cognitive dysfunction.

Omalu goes higher up with his findings, to the highly praised neurologist Steve DeKosky (Eddie Marsan) and publishes a paper with the help of Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin), the former Steelers team doctor, the county coroner Cyril Wecht (Albert Brooks) and DeKosky himself. The National Football League initially denies Dr. Omalu’s findings and acts like it’s a onetime thing and nothing has been proven yet, but after Dr. Omalu discovers very similar symptoms with other former NFL players who died after Webster such as Justin Strzelczyk (Matthew Willig) and Terry Long, they can’t keep on ignoring him. Nonetheless, they still state that the CTE was caused by past injuries, not related to football.

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In the meantime, Omalu starts to get threatening phone calls, all to make him back down from his research, given football is the most popular sport around Pittsburgh and America in general, but the facts can’t be ignored.

‘Based on a true story’ is always something that draws people in to see a movie, certainly when it concerns something that is so well loved as American football. Basically, the story that director Peter Landesman tries to tell is shocking to the whole of America and even beyond, yet it is brought less shockingly than it could have been. The film focuses a lot of the time on Omalu’s life in general, adding in many scenes with his wife, which are a nice variation, yet take the attention off the main issue. It makes the whole look a bit less dramatic than it could have been, but overall you get a good insight into his research and the reaction of the NFL. Also scenes in which you see former football legends such as Mike Webster and Justin Strzelczyk have mental breakdowns make the whole a lot more convincing and real.

Will Smith does an excellent job embodying Dr. Bennet Omalu. He even talks with a foreign accent, and must have paid very close attention when preparing for his role as when you watch the extras, which we’ll discuss further in this review, you will recognize many a thing when you see the real Dr. Omalu, not only when it comes to his accent, but also his way of explaining certain things and so on. The other actors all do a great job, yet Gugu Mbatha-Raw, is a bit unconvincing at the beginning. Luckily she does get better during the course of the movie.

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For extras you get the option to watch the film with commentary of director Peter Landesman, but the most interesting is probably  ‘Inside the true story’, namely interviews with the real people of this story. In essence, it comes down to the story of the movie of course, yet it is nice to hear these people talk about it nonetheless. Also, it shows clearly that the casting was done really well, as the actors resemble the real people quite a lot in appearance, and also payed close attention to their overall behavior.


Concussion is, just like the film Spotlight, which we also recently reviewed, an eye-opening film, yet this one isn’t as shocking as it could have been. Focusing a lot on Dr. Omalu’s personal life as well, it becomes a bit less dramatic. Nonetheless it is still a very convincing story supported by great acting performances. If you’re into American football, this is definitely a must see film that might make you think twice before you step onto the field again.

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Concussion (DVD) - Movie Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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