Review: Concussion is an eye-opener for Pittsburgh

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“Need is not weak. Need is need.” Dr. Bennett Omalu (Will Smith)
“Concussion”, starring Will Smith, Mugu, Albert Brooks, and, is a biographical account of forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (Smith), who discovers neurological abnormalities similar to Alzheimer’s disease in former professional football players. After Dr. Omalu names and publishes the findings about the brain disorder, the National Football League quickly attacks his research and credibility.
The harsh realities of Pittsburgh rose to the surface. Referred to as a “rusty place”, Pittsburgh, in my experience, is home to many, but not too pleasant to the outsider. With one of the largest medical centers in the world and a cluster of esteemed universities, Pittsburgh attracts people from all over the world, but do we keep them?
Dr. Omalu and his wife did just that– escaped Pittsburgh with no intentions of returning. “Concussion” is merely one exhibit of how the most livable city might not be the most retainable one.

 In this Dec. 14, 2015, file photo, Dr. Bennet Omalu, left, and actor Will Smith pose together at the cast photo call for the film "Concussion" at The Crosby Street Hotel in New York. The movie releases in U.S. theaters on Dec. 25, 2015.
In this Dec. 14, 2015, file photo, Dr. Bennet Omalu, left, and actor Will Smith pose together at the cast photo call for the film “Concussion” at The Crosby Street Hotel in New York. The movie releases in U.S. theaters on Dec. 25, 2015.

The film is an eye opener to any Pittsburgh native. The Pittsburgh Steelers are feared and revered around these parts. We probably put the Steelers on the highest pedestal. When Big Ben was injured, we did not have deep concern for his injury. We immediately wanted to know when he would return.
Dr. Omalu’s work highlights the fact that, although we love Big Ben as starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, we have to understand that the many hits he sustains can have a permanent neurological effect on him long after football.
Will Smith is absolutely breathtaking as Dr. Bennett Omalu. In the movie, every time his eyes watered, my eyes watered. There’s no way you could not be moved by his performance.
Some critics have gone as far to say that this is his best performance yet. I can’t quite jump on that boat though. His performances in Seven Pounds (2008) and the Pursuit of Happyness (2006) were far superior. The struggles, defeat, and conviction in all three movies are why Will Smith is one of the leading actors of our time.
Smith is nominated for a 2016 Best Actor Golden Globe for his role as Dr. Bennet Omalu.
Albert Brooks, the man who played Dr. Cyril Wecht, is also convincing– almost too convincing. His gutsy, nonchalant attitude is exactly how I remember Allegheny County’s former forensic pathologist.
“Concussion” is a true Christmas delight. In a coy way, the movie takes on the NFL about the harsh decision of choosing entertainment over injury. Shame on the National Football League for condoning health hazardous work environments for the sake of entertainment. Pittsburgh, despite a few jabs, is depicted as exactly what it is– a hard-working, middle class city that loves football.
5 Stars
The best part of the movie is about 15 minutes in. Will Smith is leaving St. Benedict the Moor and guess who’s walking down the church steps. Spending four hours on set for a 3.5 second glimpse of yours truly on the big screen was well worth it– top ten life experiences.
Merecedes J. Howze, Movie Scene Queen (Brian Cook/Golden Sky Media)
Merecedes J. Howze, Movie Scene Queen (Brian Cook/Golden Sky Media)

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