By: Dwayna Clark
BMWK was honored to be in the presence of brilliant forensic neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith) and the incomparable Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, at the red carpet premiere of Concussion held in Atlanta to discuss the upcoming film’s Christmas Day release.
In the movie, Will Smith shines as the American immigrant Dr. Bennet Omalu, whose efforts lead to the discovery of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a football-related brain trauma in professional football players. Dr. Omalu’s discovery lead him on the path to a climactic and epic fight with the NFL to bring the truth to light.
“Will is a phenomenal individual who taught me things that I didn’t know about myself,” Dr. Omalu told BMWK. “Will Smith, being the exceptional actor so many know him to be, studied (my) character down to simply noting that I tilt my head to the left 45 degrees and then tilt my head to the right,” stated Dr. Omalu.
The film is an accurate historical depiction of the real life events which took place on the road to discovering serious illnesses affecting many NFL players. This movie speaks to the years of NFL ignorance to life threatening injuries.
Statistically, youth football participation has declined, however, the NFL itself is still a moneymaking machine. As Brooks’ character says in the film, “it owns a day of the week, the one that used to belong to the church.”
Spoiler Alert: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje discussed with BMWK what he felt was the most impactful moment was in the film. “The departure of the icon Dave Duerson (in which he played in the film), was a bittersweet moment. In the film, Dave Duerson was the final call that changed the rest of Dr. Bennet’s life. This grand gesture validated everything Dr. Bennet was trying to expose about CTE. The denial of this disease could no longer be denied anymore because Dave Duerson was apart of NFL Players associations,” stated Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
These real life events showed the struggles Dr. Bennet went through to save the lives of many NFL players. At the end of the film, the NFL had to settle a class action lawsuit by retired players over the league’s handling of concussions.
According to actuaries hired by the NFL as part of the settlement, nearly one in three pro players will suffer long-term cognitive problems.
Dr. Bennet has made a huge impact on a multi-billion dollar business. Overall, BMWK gives the film two thumbs up. Check out the trailer below.