August 31, 2015


'Concussion' Trailer: Will Smith Is NFL Whistleblower Dr. Bennet Omalu

The National Football League has in recent years faced escalating scrutiny about the tremendous risks of hard-hitting, recurring head injuries. Now the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith, is going to tell the true tale of the tenacious Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian forensic neuropathologist who “single-handedly made the first discovery of CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] in a professional football player and brought awareness to the public." That's from Jeanne Marie Laskas' 2009 GQ article the film is based on; you should 100 percent read it.

So Will Smith's doing an accent, blending into the skin of a real-life man the way he did, stunningly, in 2001's Ali and 2006's The Pursuit of Happyness. And he'll get a third Oscar nomination—the first two were, yup, Ali and Happyness—as guaranteed by that final scene in the Concussion trailer. (And if he doesn't get his first Academy Award, we know Jaden and Willow, the biggest Fresh Prince fans alive, will give it their Midas-touch props.)

The subject material is lividly important, and Concussion looks to go at it hard. "The NFL does not want to talk to you," Alec Baldwin's Dr. Julian Bailes says. "You turned on the lights and gave their biggest boogeyman a name."

Later, from another frightened white American male equally familiar with the nation's football enterprise: "You're going to war with a corporation that owns a day of the week."

Concussion comes from coproducer Ridley Scott and writer/director Peter Landesman, who helmed the JFK assassination-aftermath movie Parkland in 2013 (set in Dallas, home of the Cowboys) and wrote 2014's Kill the Messenger, another politically and reportorially charged biopic. Costarring turns come from Lost's Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Luke Wilson, David Morse, Stephen Moyer, Albert Brooks and Mike O'Malley, among others.