Review: Concussion (2015)

Concussion (2015)This is a public service announcement. Concussion is not a soccer movie, but every soccer parent should watch it. Writer-Director Peter Landesman used to be an investigative reporter, and he brings that kind of intensity to his film. No one watching this movie can stay in denial about the long-term effects of TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury.

I am a referee, and as sports officials, we are the first line of defense in recognizing head trauma during games and exercising caution. Over the past few years, I have taken the online concussion courses provided by AYSO, NFHS, and the CDC, and I have also attended in-person seminars and lectures.

Even so, I learned new information from this movie. I hadn’t realized that the brains of players with CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) had outwardly appeared to be normal during autopsy. Pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu took the initiative, at his own expense, to analyze the brains microscopically. Medical science knew from boxing that brain damage could result from repeated blows to the head. But no one had applied that fact to the many collisions and head shakings endured in football practices and games.

Once Dr Omalu and his colleagues understood the risk to players of American football, he published his results and tried to increase public awareness, only to find himself up against the NFL and its fans.

The second thing I really like about Concussion is Will Smith’s outstanding performance. I haven’t seen all of his films, and I like him a lot, but he seems to usually play a version of himself. In this movie, I always thought I was watching some nice doctor from Africa.

You can read the original 2009 GQ article by Jeanne Marie Laskas: “Bennet Omalu, Concussions, and the NFL: How One Doctor Changed Football Forever”.

Head Games (2012) is a concussion documentary that is also very good, but which I will not review. It includes an interview with Cindy Parlow, a USWNT soccer player whose career was ended by concussions. She talks about the cognitive impairment and memory issues that led her to retire from playing at age 28.

In English
Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7

Released: 2015-12-25 (USA)
Director: Peter Landesman
Stars: Will Smith
Website: (more of an official ad site)