D: Peter Landesman
Columbia/Village Roadshow/Scott Free/Lstar (Ridley Scott, Giannina Facio, David Woltroff, Larry Shuman & Elizabeth Cantillon)
USA 🇺🇸 2015
W: Peter Landesman [based on the article "Game Brain" by Jeanne Marie Laskas]
DP: Salvatore Totino
Ed: William Goldenberg
Mus: James Newton Howard
Will Smith (Dr. Bennet Omalu), Alec Baldwin (Dr. Julian Bailes), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Prema Matisu), Arliss Howard (Dr. Joseph Maroon), Paul Reiser (Dr. Elliot Pelman), Luke Wilson (Roger Goodall), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Dave Duerson), David Morse (Mike Webster), Albert Brooks (Dr. Cyril Wecht)
A scandal surrounded this film around the time of its UK release, but it had nothing to do with the subject matter of the film, it was due to Will Smith's snub for an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. #OscarsSoWhite was the fashionable Twitter hashtag and even the actor's wife published a video detailing her discontent at how racist the Oscars were. None of this has anything to do with the film, and frankly, it's all a load of nonsense.
Will Smith does deliver a performance which is good, but it's just not Oscar-worthy. The same could be said of the film itself, based on true events, but far too televisual and a little too static in the delivery of its subject.
Smith plays a pathologist of Nigerian origin, living and working in Pittsburgh when he makes a discovery about the link between head injuries that occur in the NFL and the potential of permanent brain damage of those who suffer them.
The NFL are desperate to silence his findings to protect America's favourite sport, and though the truth eventually emerges, it's another man who takes the credit for the Nigerian doctor's discoveries.
Will Smith does deserve some praise for playing a character completely against his usual type, but the film is very straight-laced and only begins to become edgy with a forced racial controversy which doesn't seem true. The performances from the rest of the cast are fine, especially considering the supporting roles are so underwritten, but the subject matter would have worked better as a TV movie of the week or perhaps a documentary.