‘Concussion’ offers new insight on injuries in dramatic film

Written by Carson Pyatt, Online Editor in Chief

Concussion is a film based on a true story about Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) and his battle with the National Football League regarding the traumatic brain injuries sustained by football players. Omalu, an accredited doctor and forensic pathologist, begins to believe that there is something dangerous happening on the playing field when he performs autopsies on several professional football players. He eventually discovers Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, also known as CTE, a harmful brain injury that causes a multitude of problems, sometimes leading to death.

Omalu struggles to have the NFL recognize his claims and choose safety over a game. He and his wife Prema Mutiso (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) attempt to establish a life for themselves while enduring persecution for telling the truth. Although the ending is not as happy as many movies are, it did a good job of pointing out the dishonesty of the NFL’s attempts to cover up the issue.

The movie was overall filled with drama, and certain scenes were very harsh and tense. One that particularly stands out to me was a scene in which Omalu sits down with the Pittsburgh Steeler’s team doctor, Joseph Maroon (Arliss Howard) to discuss the cover-up of the real problems. Omaulu tries desperately to get the NFL to recognize they must tell the truth about concussions, using the various deceased Steelers players such as Mike Webster as examples of those who have fallen victims of the injury. The scene features one of Omalu’s most prominent arguments, and Smith does an excellent job of showing his disgust with the organization and the lying. Another scene that angered me involved a press conference given by the NFL, stating that concussion were not as harmful as Omalu was making them out to be. Throughout the film, the NFL continually denies the severity of concussions, which leads to many questions I have if anything genuinely helpful was done or is being done about the issue.

There were multiple things I liked about this movie. For one, it portrayed concussions as an incredibly serious injury, something I believe often gets overlooked in sports. As an athlete, I never really saw concussions as a big deal, but my perspective was drastically altered after viewing the movie. Additionally, I liked the points the movie accented. There was an emphasis placed on corporations’ unquenchable thirst for profit, racial differences in the United States and flaws in morality. There were certainly aspects of the movie that were average, but overall I found it to be a compelling and captivating movie that shined a light on an important topic.

While I’m not sure the movie has created or will create a massive and important change in sports, particularly in football, I believe that the film explained the seriousness of head injuries. Hopefully it inspires people to further safety precautions and comprehend the consequences of concussions.