Concussion (2015)

Concussion has a great actor at its helm, and is about an interesting controversy, but the film ultimately just doesn’t work that well. The pacing is choppy, the script is padded, the direction is workmanlike. The utter lack of a conclusion – while true to life – prevents the film from fully coming together.

The cast was pretty good. Albert Brooks, Alec Baldwin, and David Morse were as good as you’d expect from them. Smith gave one of his stronger performances. Will Smith’s accent is pretty ropey at times, but his performance overall is really the best performance he’s given in quite a while. I feel he did really disappear into the role at times. He was a pleasant surprise for me in this.

The pacing was an issue. There was a lot of padding and subplots that didn’t really go anywhere. Prema’s story wasn’t particularly strong – honestly, everything besides the actual science vs. corruption angle was fairly weak. Anything without thematic connection to that angle felt superfluous. More could have been done with the immigrant story angle.

The film felt oddly neutered at times, with lines about the “beauty” and “grace” of American football coming off as awkward. A spot of Googling after the film led me to an article (www.projectcasting.com/news/concussion-nfl/) claiming that NFL lawyers pressured script tweaks, and that wouldn’t surprise me.

Overall it’s worth a watch if one finds the subject matter very interesting, or is a particularly big fan of Will Smith, but the film is ultimately too clunky and inconsistent for me to really recommend.

I give it two bizarrely-performed accents, and an inconclusive ending.

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