Based on the horrific true story of the NFL’s failure to acknowledge a medical discovery which linked football to brain injury and death, Concussion reminds us that profits are all too often placed ahead of human life.
Dr Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) is a newly arrived forensic neuropathologist. Working as a coroner in Pittsburgh, he is tasked with the autopsy of a local football hero, who at just 50 years of age lost his mind in a short few months prior to death.
Rather than simply examine the physical cause of death, Dr Omalu is troubled by the unusual circumstances surrounding it. At his own expense, he orders a range of tests that reveal damage to the brain so severe, he can’t help but delve deeper.
What he finds is a number of suspicious deaths from apparent suicide or accident that share a pattern of the quick mental decline of former footballers in the months leading up to death. With his research colleagues verifying his findings, Dr Omalu publishes his initial work. But, what he also finds is that the powers that be at the NFL aren’t too happy with his discovery.
Dr Omalu’s work has lead to an important understanding of brain damage, caused by impact trauma through the normal course of play. Today, his work has been applauded for bringing to light a terrible sports-associated illness, which is preventable and prevalent in a range of contact sports—including our own AFL and Rugby.
Today, with this new awareness, more is being done by these codes to protect players from long-term brain injury. But, for many it’s already too late. More frightening still is the accusation this film presents, that a major sporting body like the NFL was aware of the damage caused by its game, and chose to protect its image and profits over the health and wellbeing of its players.
Concussion is a powerful film, and an important reminder of the true cost of an ‘at all costs’ sporting mentality. While it centres on sport, it is a film about power, corruption and an incredible cover-up, a tale that occurred very recently.
It’s also a film about the strength of an individual’s resolve, pitted against the might of a large corporation. Dr Omalu’s battle is not simply one of knowledge and discovery; he must overcome a much beloved and powerful sporting body in order to fulfil his responsibility as a medical practitioner.
Don’t let the sports theme deter you from this intense drama. It’s compelling viewing from start to finish.
Director: Peter Landesman
Stars: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks
Release Date: Feb 18
Reviewer Rating: 4/5