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Peter Landesman
Will Smith, David Morse, Alec Baldwin
Writing Credits:
Peter Landesman

In Pittsburgh, accomplished pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play.

Box Office:
$35 million.
Opening Weekend
$10,513,749 on 2841 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Audio Descriptive Service
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

123 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 3/29/2016

• Audio Commentary with Director Peter Landesman
• Deleted Scenes
• “Inside the True Story” Featurette
• “Crafting Concussion” Featurette
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Concussion [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 21, 2020)

As I’ve noted in other reviews, Will Smith stepped away from his massively successful career as an actor after 2008’s Seven Pounds. He wouldn’t appear in another movie until 2012’s Men in Black 3.

Smith co-starred with his son Jaden for 2013’s After Earth. Other than borderline cameos for 2013’s Anchorman 2 and 2014’s Winter’s Tale, though, Smith did little over this span.

2015 marked Smith’s true return to the big screen, though perhaps not with the results he hoped to achieve. That February’s Focus did okay but fell far from Smith’s prior heights, and December’s Concussion also sputtered at the box office.

A serious drama that Smith probably hoped would snare his third Oscar nomination, Concussion introduces us to Dr. Bennet Omalu (Smith). Set in 2002, forensic pathologist Dr. Omalu works at the Pittsburgh coroner’s office.

When former Steelers center Mike Webster (David Morse) dies at a relatively young age, Dr. Omalu finds himself curious to learn more. As he investigates, Dr. Omalu discovers patterns of brain injuries in pro football players. He attempts to bring this information to the public, a quest that sets him on a collision course with the powerful NFL.

Since Concussion hit screens in 2015, various controversies emerged related to Dr. Omalu and the film’s depiction of events. For the purposes of this review, I’ll simply address the qualities of the movie itself, as I simply don’t enjoy enough familiarity with these issues to adequately touch on them.

Viewed purely as a character drama, Concussion comes up short, mainly because it tends to come across as one-sided. The film paints its lead essentially as a flawless saint and it takes a heavy-handed view of the topics.

This means Concussion often delivers a pedantic tale, one that feels like a clumsy series of expositional scenes attached by stale character developments. We see Dr. Omalu as the gentle, selfless man without imperfections of any sort, and that depiction doesn’t stand up to dramatic scrutiny.

It doesn’t help that Concussion shoehorns in a romance with Prema Mutiso (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a fellow African immigrant. The Bennet/Prema love affair seems so cliché that I figured the movie invented her.

Nope – Prema is a real person, and as depicted, she and Bennet married. Unfortunately, their relationship evolves in such a trite manner that it feels created for cinematic melodrama, so these elements fail to connect well.

In addition, director Peter Landesman decides to tell the story in a relentlessly urgent manner. Rather than treat the material with the seriousness the topic demands, Concussion acts like some wild thriller.

These choices don’t work. We get a series of cliché threats – ominous phone calls, mysterious cars that follow characters – and a cartoony sense of the situations, all of which detract from the subject matter at hand.

Concussion does come with a good cast, as in addition to Smith, Morse and Mbatha-Raw, we find talents like Albert Brooks, Alec Baldwin, Luke Wilson and others. All do fine, and Smith manages to ground his one-dimensional role fairly well.

However, the actors can’t overcome the thinness of the script and the movie’s painful lack of nuance. While it touches on an important subject, Concussion telegraphs its points in too blunt a manner to succeed.

Footnote: Cyril Wecht acts as Dr. Omalu’s supervisor. Those familiar with JFK assassination lorewill recognize his name, as he became one of the early participants in that research.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Concussion appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an appealing presentation.

Sharpness worked well, as only a sliver of softness crept into the occasional wide shot. Overall definition remained positive, though, without real intrusions into that area.

I saw no evidence of jagged edges or moiré effects, and the image lacked edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear.

Colors tended toward a mix of teal and amber much of the time, and the Blu-ray depicted the hues well. The palette didn’t sizzle, but the tones seemed well-rendered within the design choices.

Blacks appeared dark and tight, while low-light shots demonstrated nice clarity and delineation. I felt pleased with this high-quality presentation.

In addition, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked fine, as the mix brought the variety of settings to life. Various environmental bits filled the spectrum nicely, and various action beats used the speakers in a dynamic way.

Audio quality appeared positive as well, with natural, concise speech. Music showed nice range and vivacity.

Effects came across as clean and accurate, with very good bass response. The soundtrack added to the movie’s impact.

A few extras appear here, and we start with an audio commentary from writer/director Peter Landesman. He offers a running, screen-specific look at story and characters, cast and performances, music, sets and locations, facts and historical liberties, and related topics.

Despite occasional lulls, Landesman largely provides an engaging chat. He covers a nice array of subjects and does so in a positive way to make this a pretty useful commentary.

Nine Deleted Scenes span a total of 12 minutes, 52 seconds. These tend toward minor character/expository sequences – with one exception.

In one scene, we see Dr. Omalu’s cousin, Amobi Okoye, a star college football player. The two speak, as Dr. Omalu tries to convince Okoye to quit. It offers good character insight and should’ve made the final film.

Two featurettes follow, and Inside the True Story runs 11 minutes, 10 seconds. It brings notes from Dr. Bennet Omalu, Dr. Julian Bailes, Dr. Cyril Wecht, Dr. Ronald Hamilton, and actor Will Smith.

As implied by the title, “Story” examines the events behind the movie’s fictionalized version. I like this chance to hear from the real people behind the tale.

Crafting Concussion lasts 12 minutes, 55 seconds and involves Landesman, Smith, Dr. Omalu, journalist Jeanne Marie Laskas, producers Ridley Scott, Elizabeth Cantillon and Giannina Scott, executive producer David Crockett, location manager Kent Jackson, production designer David Crank, and actors David Morse, Albert Brooks, Alec Baldwin, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

“Crafting” looks at the source article and its path to the screen, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations. This veers toward promotional fare, but “Crafting” comes with enough substance to merit a look.

The disc opens with ads for The Walk, Risen, Money Monster, Miracles from Heaven, Moneyball and and Truth. No trailer for Concussion appears here.

At its heart, Concussion involves a compelling tale. However, the movie comes with such a heavy-handed, one-dimensional approach to the subject matter that it fails to deliver an engaging drama. The Blu-ray brings good picture and audio along with a decent roster of bonus materials. I wanted to like Concussion but thought it seemed too cliché.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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