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Yes No Maybe So: Concussion

Manuel here to talk about Will Smith's newest film, Concussion, which released its first trailer. The film follows Dr. Bennet Omalu (Smith) who discovered CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in two football players who later committed suicides. Based on the GQ article "Game Brain" by Jeanne Marie Laskas, the film is about Dr. Omalu's attempts at getting the NFL to take his findings seriously; that is, that the concussions suffered by football players may lead to chronic degenerative brain diseases.

You can imagine how that went in real life and how that'll play out in the film itself. The film was written and directed by Peter Landesman (who wrote and directed Parkland). Following our patented trailer evaluation system, let's take a look at Concussion:

“When I was a boy. Heaven was here. And America was here.”

I’m happy the trailer instantly makes it clear the way American football functions as a metaphor for the United States. Ballsy move for the type of story that follows. But more importantly: Gugu (!!) Or, rather, the back of Gugu's head!

"You turned on the lights and gave their biggest bogeyman a name."  

Maybe So
I’m getting The Insider vibes (maybe it’s those blue-hued scenes?). A film like this lives and dies on the strength of the script and direction. Can Landesman make this the type of vintage Mann film it could be?


Maybe So
Will the film give Gugu anything to do? I mean, other than allow me to cast her in an imaginary Silkwood remake?


The film boasts quite the actorly roster: in addition to Luke Wilson, the film features Alec Baldwin, Eddie Marsan, Albert Brooks, Paul Reiser, David Morse and Mike O'Malley in key roles. (But then, that didn't really work very well for Landesman in Parkland now did it?)

"If you don't speak for them, who will?"

Maybe So
I fear we’re gonna get Gugu in full “supportive” (and not just supporting) mode here.

Maybe So
This will surely hit a nerve in terms of sports coverage; will it (and can it) go beyond a by-the-numbers whistleblower-type genre film? At least some shots pop out. The film was shot by Salvatore Totino who also lensed the upcoming Everest. Quite the double feature!

Will Smith back in a demanding role; we don’t even see his signature smirk anywhere! Though I can't tell whether that'll work in his service, for I do so enjoy him in full smirk mode (and yes, I did catch Focus and it wasn't half-bad).

Is it me or is that “Tell the truth!” bit at the end a tad melodramatic? Perhaps it plays better in context?

As you can tell, I’m clearly more concerned with Gugu than with anything else in this trailer which is serviceable, but leaves me a tad cold. I’m a Maybe right now though stellar reviews will obviously get me to check it out.

Are you also fixated on Gugu or excited for a return to form in Smith?

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Reader Comments (18)

I'm only into this as a vehicle by which Netflixers everywhere can eventually rent that under-marketed and interesting lesbian drama with Robin Weigert without realizing it.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Glad to see Gugu get work in a high profile release, even if it is a slight role. Smith, on the other hand, I can live without. Obviously he has his fans, but I don't see him as a very good actor. A movie star, perhaps. Actor - no. Best Actor is already bulging with possibilities: DiCaprio,
Fassbender, Redmayne, Caine, Cranston, Foster, Hiddleston, Cheadle....

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

I will see this, but am quite wary.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Zitzelman

I think the trailer presents something much more intriguing than I anticipated. Thought this would be soppy/soapy, but I like the thriller presentation, and I think that Will looks principled, strong -- ALI mode.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

I'm such a no I can't even bring myself to watch the trailer.

Also, what Nick said ^^ !!

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Ugh (and no, I didn't watch the trailer). I will have to watch this movie, I'm sure.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Steve: Agreed. I'm a maybe, leaning yes. This (could) be really good.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

All the subtlety of a traumatic brain injury.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBD

For what is worth, Smith looks pretty strong here. And this coming for a no-fan whatsoever. Color me intrigued.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLuca

I think the movie would have been so much better with Idris Elba in the lead

Just sayin

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

I'm kind of over Smith at the moment, but Gugu could not be higher in my personal book after Beyond the Lights and in particular Belle. Love her-if she is the highlight of reviews I'll show up. If not, I'm going to need Oscar nominations to get me there.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Uh... no. I'm distracted by that awful accent Smith is doing.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

actually the accent is spot on.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered Commentersummer

The trailer is ok - the movie looks like serious drama Oscar bait

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I'm a yes. Smith, despite people his naysayers and not even watching the trailer, is doing an awesome job with that accent. It's not over pronounced and is very strong.

August 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan

Yes, I want to see more of Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

But I'll wait and see her in a movie where it sounds like she has a better part, a lawyer in Courtney Hunt's "The Whole Truth". Hunt directed Melissa Leo and the much-missed Misty Upham in "Frozen River". Hunt also studied law at university, so the lawyer's role should have a little heft to it.

I used to be able to put up with Will Smith, but now I can't take more than a couple of minutes of him. Pay to watch him in a whole movie? No.

September 1, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteradri

The trailer doesn't make it look nearly as Oscar-baity as I expected for a film of this nature with a release date in December, which is a welcome surprise, though that doesn't yet put me firmly in the "yes" camp.

September 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Damn Gugu is so beautiful, it mentally hurts me.

September 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFadhil

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