'Concussion' doesn't have enough to say about the national obsession with football

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

The movie stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennett Omalu, a doctor who researched brain trauma in football players and pressured the National Football League.

Columbia Pictures/AP
'Concussion' stars Will Smith.

In writer-director Peter Landesman’s “Concussion,” Will Smith gives an intelligent, measured performance as Dr. Bennett Omalu, the real-life, Nigerian-born doctor who, while working in Pittsburgh, researched brain trauma in football players and, facing great resistance and personal sacrifice, pressured the NFL to recognize the burgeoning health crisis.

Since the NFL, its officials and doctors, and even players and fans were slow to acknowledge the problem, and still are, the movie has an immediacy. But except for this ripped-from-the-headlines topicality, and Smith’s quiet, steady work, the film is rather flat. To Landesman’s credit, and Smith’s, Omalu has a stubbornness and a sense of entitlement that occasionally make him appear less than saintly. But sanctification still imbues the atmosphere. This man, we are maneuvered to believe, is a hero.

Fair enough, but what does the film have to say about the national obsession with violent sports? Landesman doesn’t go beyond the obvious: We should be aware of the risks. If “Concussion” really stuck its neck out, it would have been the better for it. The film comes on as hard-hitting, but it’s weighted down with protective gear. Grade: C+ (Rated PG-13 for thematic material including some disturbing images, and language.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 'Concussion' doesn't have enough to say about the national obsession with football
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today