Will Smith in Concussion

Will Smith in my eyes doesn’t seem to age, he’ll always be The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

So when you go to see ‘Concussion’ remove all images of ‘The Fresh Prince’, remove all images of Chris Gardener from ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’, remove all images of Mohammed Ali, remove all images of Mike Lowrey from ‘Bad Boys’ etc etc etc, and just envelope yourself in the character of Nigerian Doctor, Bennet Omalu, a medical professional who’s work resulted in discovering the relationship of the brain disease CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) to damage done to “some” American football players caused by concussion.

Hence the name of the film.

NFL football players suffer multiple concussions during their career, and Dr. Bennet Omalu highlighted this fact which came to his attention when football player “Iron Mike Webster” died suddenly at the age of 50 having enjoyed a lucrative career as an NFL player.

Many footballers experienced mood swings and mental health issues but this was swept under the carpet as it was expressed that if 10% of mothers in the USA decided not to allow their sons to play American Football because of these findings, the NFL would probably collapse.  Dr. Bennet Omalu being a strong willed man was steeped in truth and honesty and didn’t stop until the NFL heard and accepted his findings.  When they agreed to hear him he was opposed at the 11th hour and a representative was sent to the NFL in his place.  Frustrated but not defeated he continued his work, against much opposition from players as well as managers until a player unable to deal with the crisis going on in his head and the mental turmoil he was experiencing, took his own life by shooting himself in the chest (sorry to be so graphic), but he left a note to Dr. Omalu stating that the reason his took his life in that way was so that his brain could be used for research.  He knew something was wrong as a result of the sport and the head banging he had endured over a period of time.

Not only does Will do a fairly convincing Nigerian accent, he does possess the spirit of the mild mannered Doctor who refuses to back down.  Dr. Bennet Omalu persevered.

concussionAfter the film, Will Smith joined us for a Q and A session.  I knew he was there but I had no idea he was going to make his entrance from the back of the room – exactly where I was sitting!!!   Susanna Reid announced him, he walked in looked at me and said hi, I replied “hello Mr Smith” and felt like a complete lemon then started shaking!!

After I calmed down I listened with eagerness as he spoke to the audience about meeting Dr. Bennet Omalu, and the fact that whilst football is a great sport and an American institution, his son Jaden no longer plays and he’s quite pleased about that! The helmet used in the game does very little to protect the head, the skull and the brain so there is a false sense of security.

Will also spoke about the Oscars; he is actually a member of the Academy but stated he would rather work towards creating a change of image in the film industry and encourage the Academy to stretch their imagination (the word image being a shortened version of the word imagination).

All in all a positive evening, a positive film, and Will Smith’s positive attendance, created a positive outcome.