Tyler Ku’ulani Lopez
Concussion has been marketed as the tell-all story of Dr. Omalu’s groundbreaking concussion discovery. Omalu, the father of the now infamous CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), is brought to film by the talented Will Smith along with a cast of others. Marketed as a movie that will take strong shots at America’s most profitable sports industry, I’ll tell you how this film misses its mark.
1 – Writing: 7/10
The writing is fine, but it’s nothing to write home about. There’s a lot of religious overtones to this movie that really weren’t marketed to the mainstream audience. I don’t have a problem with that, but it does tend to slap you in the face at times. There’s moments of dreadful writing, but overall it’s passable.
2 – Direction: 7/10
Again just a very average style to this movie. There’s not a lot of chances taken by director Peter Landesman, but it’s fine.
3 – Cinematography: 7/10
Sorry to keep giving you the same line, but it’s all very average.
4 – Acting: 8/10
An extra point because Will Smith does his typical Will Smith goodness. Alec Baldwin (as Dr. Julian Bailes) and Albert Brooks (as Dr. Cyril Wecht) are heartfelt and perform well. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (as Prema Mutiso) is very sweet in this movie. There’s moments of true passion in there. The actors who portrayed athletes were all over the place. They were grossly over-dramatic at times and at other times uninteresting. Smith was probably my favorite of that group.
5 – Editing: 6/10
I have to assume the changes pushed on the movie by the NFL forced them to change the plot of the film. The first act seems to go in one direction while the rest of the movie goes another. It makes the end of the first act/start of the second act really drag.
6 – Sound: 7/10
No major complaints, but again nothing creative.
7 – Score/Soundtrack: 6/10
James Newton Howard scores this movie and it did absolutely nothing for me. Unmemorable which is the opposite of what you want.
8 – Production Design: 8/10
Everything felt real from the coroner’s office to Heinz Stadium (what a weird sentence). No complaints there.
9 – Casting: 6/10
I mean really it was very clear what they were going for and I hated it. Will Smith does a good job, but it was clear they wanted a big name and that’s it. This is an American actor that we’ve seen for decades now who is clean shaven and affecting an accent. He looks nothing like Dr. Omalu and it’s difficult to watch the movie without seeing Will Smith instead of Dr. Omalu. Luke Wilson was laughable, not because he did a bad job but could they find an actor who looked more different than Roger Goodell? Was Idris Elba or Kate Mara unavailable? The two great casting choices are Baldwin and Brooks, but after that it’s very average.
10 – Effects: 7/10
Not much to speak of here as there’s not much need for special effects. There’s a few visuals used to represent concussions that work fine.
Overall Score: 6.9/10
The movie is the epitome of okay. It might be worth it to see Will Smith and Gugu Mbatha-Raw who have a few very good moments. The rest of the film though is really not very good. It’s a story more about Dr. Omalu’s life than it is about concussions, the NFL, or the impact concussions can have. It seems whatever they were shooting for got lost in translation. My take: if you want to watch it, wait until it comes out on Netflix or the $10 bin at Target.