starring Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Albert Brooks
written and directed by Peter Landesman
by Walter Chaw Peter Landesman's deeply compromised Concussion so shockingly exposes and excoriates the negligence of the NFL in protecting its players that it's constantly advertised during NFL games. The whole thing feels like a redacted security document: It's choppy, skips over entire plot points, short-sells the issues, and gives equal time to celebrating the beauty and the glory of football as it does to how football turns a scary percentage of its players into confused, manic, suicidal zombies. Save for a few minutes spent with Pittsburgh Steelers centre Mike Webster (David Morse), living in a truck and gluing his teeth into his head with superglue, we don't get much of a glimpse at the symptomatology of "CTE," the repeated-trauma disease discovered by Nigerian-born Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), who's introduced listing off his accomplishments to declare himself the "smartest person you've ever probably met or will probably ever meet." Concussion is what Spotlight would have looked like had it been made by Cardinal Law: you know, some stuff happened, but the Catholic Church is MAJESTIC. To be fair, we don't get much of a glimpse of anything--not even the romance between Omalu and his ward-cum-lover-cum-spouse (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, so astonishing in Belle and Beyond the Lights; welcome to the mainstream, Gugu!), which is treated in a curious, epileptic shorthand. She's a homeless refugee. She's very religious. Oh, now they're dancing and, um, fucking, and married and, wait, pregnant and married. Wait, now she's doing that wife-in-Bridge of Spies thing where she's protecting the family and... And Concussion is terrible.