Movie Review: Concussion
America loves heroes, and the story concept of the underdog overcoming all odds to succeed straddles the landscape of American cinematography like pyramids in the deserts of Egypt.
In the Insider, it was a former executive gone rogue pitted against Big Tobacco. In Erin Brockovich, it was a single mum in high heels and push -up bra against Big Power. In Concussion, it’s an immigrant forensic pathologist against Big Football.
Based on the true story of Nigerian -born pathologist, Dr. Bennett Omalu, who stumbles upon a discovery daubed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE ) whistle performing an autopsy on a former pro — football player .
Dr. Omalu’s discovery of CTE eventually finds its way into a medical journal and threatens to out the secrets of Big Football represented by the behemoth, National Football League (NFL).
From thereon down, the movie is pretty much predictable. It follows the basic formula of such movies. Big Football fights back by trying to discredit Dr. Omalu’s findings and resorts to threats when he wouldn’t back down.
Now, whilst the movie should have centered on Dr. Omalu’s heroism (?) as its thematic focus, for me, it came off as laying too heavy the patented American dream shtick.
In one scene, Dr. Omalu shared with his immigrant Kenyan love interest how as a boy growing up in Enugu, America was for him one step below heaven. In another scene, smarting from the pressures of Big Football fighting back, he lets on about not wanting to go back to Nigeria and how he wants his son to be born in America. At the end of the movie, we are informed that in February 2015, Dr. Omalu became an American citizen.
One review described Will Smith’s portrayal of Dr. Omalu as “authentic performance… accent and all” and that it “deserves acclaim”. What a load of crock! Especially regarding the accent.
At best, Will Smith gave a safe, even if unflattering, performance of Dr. Omalu. I say unflattering because for a well-educated man who is a forensic pathologist with several degrees to his name, Smith’s Dr. Omalu came across as one trying to grasp the English language in some scenes. And that awful accent which in some scenes gave way to a clearly American accent is anything but Nigerian. It could’ve been East African or South African but most certainly not Nigerian. The Nigerian accent has never been one you could easily describe but it is one that is unmistakable if you hear it anywhere in the world even when masked by an attempt to affect a foreign accent.
Smith was a miscast as Dr. Omalu. Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje who surprisingly was cast as a former footballer turned NFL suit should have been cast as Dr. Omalu . In terms of physical looks, he is a better choice than Smith and he would most certainly have pulled off an authentic Nigerian accent much the same way Alec Baldwin pulled off a southern drawl.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, as Dr. Omalu’s love interest and eventual wife, given her limited screen time was about as useful to the movie as Luke Wilson’s and Harper Hill’s characters.
Concussion was an enjoyable, even if predictable, movie. But there was nothing Oscar-worthy about it.4/10