Concussion (2015)

I'm from Pittsburgh. I remember watching the Steelers winning Superbowls on TV when I was a kid. I remember Mean Joe Green, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, and Jack Ham. Most of all, I remember Mike Webster; he was legendary. Unlike the guys who got all the screen time, Mike plodded out his life in the middle of the line. He enjoyed hitting people and wore short sleeves in the snow. If it was cold and muddy, Mike was in his element.

It was much later in life that I heard that Mike's life went horribly wrong. I could never imagine Iron Mike living in a car or sleeping at a bus station - these were just unfathomable for someone who was so beloved and famous. It turns out, there was a lasting issue from all of that football, but it took him dying for someone to figure it out.

Will Smith plays a doctor from Nigeria who had come over to the states and gotten a LOT of education to be a pathologist. He moved to Pittsburgh to work under Albert Brooks as Dr. Cyril Wecht. Albert does the impossible and makes Cyril actually seem human and not the giant lying, egotistical ass that he is in real life. When Will performs an autopsy on Poor Iron Mike, he discovers lots of issues with the brain that would normally have been associated with old age, but Mike wasn't old enough to have these issues. So, Will delves deeper into it, examining other dead NFL players.

Alec Baldwin plays Dr. Julian Bailes, who is a former team doctor for the Steelers, a personal friend of Iron Mike, and Alec plays him remarkably well. I have met Julian, and Alec clearly has as well. Alec's position was as a trusted local neurosurgeon who knew about football, the importance of the Steelers to the local economy, the power struggles against the NFL, and to basically be the bridge between this foreigner who doesn't understand the custom of football and the important discovery he has made.

The NFL was very much not in favor of the movie being made, and there are obvious reasons for this. To get the full scoop on the terrible, terrible way the league treated its employees and resisted the findings of Doctor Omalu (Will Smith), carve out two hours of your life for the PBS documentary League of Denial (free streaming). The love story in Concussion seemed pretty tacked-on, and I don't really understand the need for it other than to humanize Will, and I don't know that he needed that.

Acting was very good
Story was compelling
Direction was good
Editing was good
Effects might have helped (House-style)

Bottom Line: A sad, but true story of the legacy of the NFL's intentional money-grubbing ignorance.



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