Friday, 1 January 2016
The Blind Side.
122 Minutes. Starring: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Luke Wilson & David Morse. Director: Peter Landesman.
Focus! Can you see clearly? Still to this day one of the worlds biggest movie stars, Will Smith and writer/director Peter Landesman have something to say and show you. Something Dr. Bennet Omalu has been trying to tell and prove to the game of American Football for yearning years. People are saying this is the film the NFL doesnt want you to see, but this is something that everyone with a gridiron rep and even every parent of every potential prodigy picking up the pigskin need to watch on any given day. Forget Sunday, even if the biggest sports franchise in the United States Of America and the rest of the watching world owns that day the church used to as this movie eloquently puts it. Subtely however, no matter how much you love the inspiration of 'Glory Road', or the science of 'Moneyball' and the 'Creed' of so many boxing bouts from 'Rocky' to 'Raging Bull', compared to this its no contest. 'Concussion' may just be the most important sports movie yet. The flash of the Prince Of Bel-Air is still fresh, but between running round with Down Under starlet of the future Margot Robbie in last years classy crime caper 'Focus' and this years caped crusader, epic villain ensemble, playing from the hip as Deadshot to her Harley Quinn in the 'Suicide Squad', Will with his Smith way is looking to really save the world once again with once the worlds biggest blockbuster actors resurgence, 'Independence Day' or not (we still believe...and thats no 'X-Files' reference). This is his 'Legend', his 'Pursuit' of something more and meaningful than a happiness typo. As unique and underrated as his formidable, flawless and fighting portrayal of the real 'Ali' which if I'm to be controversial has the belt above all those aformentioned above and any of his acclaimed acting. Sorry Denzel, but on that 'Training Day' he should have got the Oscar like Dey La Hoya. But now with another sports movie he's caddying for The Academy once again like he should have as 'Bagger Vance'. With 'Concussion' he delivers the biggest blow to critics who tried to write him off and erase him like the NFL this movie. Tell the truth.
And speak on it. Nuanced in all his niceties, Smith's perfect portyal of the gentle giant of pathology Dr. Omalu is so inspired an interpretation of an impression that the man who revolutioned how we look at CTE almost believes Will stole his soul as he captures all our hearts and minds with a willful, redemptive performance that is worth its weight of gold that could sit next to his hugely deserved rap grammy for the underrated, all-round entertainer. One who is a charisma force of nature, but yet shows beautiful restraint here (the West Philly kid who once gave his hometown Eagles an emphatic Superbowl video introduction births and raises a more dignified force and form of emphasis here) in bringing out that side of Bennet through the shadows of subtle shyness. Every mannerism, every mood rings true and we havent even talked about his accent yet which really is as authentic as it comes. You forget its Smith here, save the ears for an actor who even captures the emotional breaking points of a cool under pressure individual (you have to be to literally talk to the dead like this man has...or to receive threats as such from ignorant Sunday couch fans who dont know what this game is doing to their heroes) with an afforded, affable measure of brilliance. All with the diligence of the due resepct deserved by the sensitive nature of the subject at hand. I know people are talking about the theory of Eddie Redmayne doubling up as 'Best Actor' for 'The Danish Girl', or even 'The Revenant' of DiCaprio being robbed yet again...this time by the bear that mauled him. But in a calender of biopics that have seen the 'Black Mass' of Johnny Depp and Michael Fassbender's 'Jobs' show they are anything but coffee table reads, Will Smith clears it all and passes the bar...with honours for Bennet's. Even with the legendary likes of Matt Damon ('The Martian') and Tom Hanks ('Bridge Of Spies') turning in some of their best work of type to date. But speaking of actors it isnt just our leading man who makes 'Concussion' a best picture and more than just a head trauma warning, public information film with dramatic effect.
Touching on more than just touchdowns and time outs, the ever good Alec Baldwin is on fine form as a sympatheic team doctor with blows to his own conscience. Whilst in chamelonic disguise, Albert Brooks books in another reel to his latest formidable filmography run, completing this big-three of the science and the substance at hand in the background of a sport that hides more behind the initimidating grill of those helmets. The great Gugu Mbatha-Raw injects some much needed love into this bleak but hopeful picture that shows the heart of a genuine man ravaged by the injust hate phoned and mailed in out of the thin air of intimidation. And all because he was only trying to bring more aid to what should be more than a cause for concern, which is why in turn this Doctor has made the study of CTE his lifes work in actual reality. If you want to see what it all means and what this is all about than look no further than arguably the best work character actor David Morse has ever done. Stealing scenes as Pittsburgh all-American football hero Mike Webster, who after a legendary Hall Of Fame career, tragically lived out his last days, homeless in a pick-up under the cloud of concussive, crippling confusion amongst more that plauged his mind and led him to abuse drugs and his body before he died from all these cruel complications. Fitting aswell is the spare screen time Luke Wilson is given as the NFL commissioner. As good as it is and with the rumors of a critical cut scene due to landmark writer/director Landesman's uncertainty in asataining the truth the small time given to this big star and his pivotal character is an accidently apt methaphor of this whole tragic situation and the rumored pressure of the NFL in making this movie tone everything down. Trust the brain of the Sports Illustrated companion piece though because you really cant tell. One things for sure however even with the leagues involvement in this concussion issue more must be done on the field, even all the way to the canvas of boxing, which is a whole new issue. Whether it be regulation, age limit rules or even an outright ban. Something must be done before more big names or not, professional or otherwise become cautionary tales of tragedy. 'Concussion' may be the most important movie of the year, but the only thing more important than Dr. Omalu's groundbreaking work is the lives he is saving and the ones the NFL could too to make sure names like Mike Webster, Terry Long, Justin Strzelczyk, Andre Waters and countless more, many more we dont even know about...yet, live on and dont die in vain, all for the NFL'S enjoyment and dollars in the millions. To those who arent thinking clear when it comes to this straight forward issue, use your head...and have a heart for these poor souls. TIM DAVID HARVEY.