Concussion Review
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Each weekend during the fall, millions of people flock to their local stadium or settle down with a bowl of chips in front of the TV to watch their favorite football team go to battle on the gridiron. But, according to the daring doctor in director Peter Landesmanís Concussion, those tough, hard-hitting players may be in for an even bigger battle with their own mental health.

Concussion explores the dangers involved in the countryís most popular sport. Will Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Pittsburgh pathologist whoís assigned to handle the autopsy of NFL Hall of Famer Mick Webster (David Morse). Though his colleagues encourage him to forego a detailed autopsy, Omalu wants to know what caused the former football greatís death. His relentless examination leads him to discover a kind of brain trauma suffered by football players. But when he reveals his findings in a medical journal, he comes under fire by those who want this damaging information to remain hidden.

This isnít the first film this award season to tackle a real-life scandal. The cast and crew of Spotlight have already taken home an impressive number of awards for doing just that. But Concussion is a different kind of scandal story: a more character-driven drama about the man who stood up for the truth.

Concussion is definitely a daring film, taking aim at an organization thatís as powerful and as cherished as the NFL. But it isnít quite as bold as it could have been. On one hand, the film calls out the NFL, accusing them of not only being aware of the dangers of the sport but also actively covering up the facts. The NFL seems to be responsible for everything from negligence to flat-out bullying, yet many of the filmís claims tend to come across in hints and suggestions instead of clear facts and accusations.

Meanwhile, while Spotlight is centered on the scandal itself, Concussion focuses more on Dr. Omalu and his story than on the NFLís part in the scandal. He definitely has an interesting story to tell, but the added personal drama and relationships seem to soften the blows.

Perhaps, though, thatís all just a part of the filmmakersí plan: to use a likable star and a dramatic story to make an important point. Smithís strong performance and Omaluís passion for his work will make audiences care about the character. He isnít crazy or vindictive, and he isnít out to attack the NFL. He simply wants to do his job, tell his story, and maybe even help some people in the process. And maybeójust maybeóthat softer approach will make even the most loyal football fans take notice.

It may not be an in-your-face kind of exposť, but Concussion is certainly an intriguing film with an important story to tell. It probably wonít single-handedly cause a major shake-up, but itís sure to make you think twice about forcing your kid to join the peewee football league.

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