This is a tough one for me to write about. Simply put it is about subject matter that should absolutely be talked about and is made with the best of intentions, but, unfortunately, is not very good. The film takes place less than ten years ago, making the ideas presented timely and all the more worth discussing.
The film follows a Nigerian pathologist, living in America, named Dr Bennet Omalu. He is a hard working Christian who performs autopsies for a living. One day, upon performing an autopsy on an NFL player who had gone crazy later in life, he discovers a brain disease caused by repeated head traumas. The movie follows his attempt to get this discovery noticed, while the NFL attempts to cover it up and get him discredited.
The problems this movie has are of the nature that it teeters on the edge of being a good movie. Therefore many of my criticisms would not necessarily be problems would it not be for how they fit together as a whole. The most obvious example of this, and also my largest problem with the film, is the slow pacing. There are many great films that tell stories in a leisurely way to progressively build character and tension and this is what the film seemed to be going for in this case. Unfortunately it often does this by needlessly reiterating points throughout the film and eventually starts to become tedious.
There are many scenes in the film that are interesting and necessary and when the film is at its best there are glimmers of greatness. Between these moments, however, there scenes of characters almost directly telling the audience what happened in previous scenes. This happens almost as if the filmmakers do not think the audience can understand it on their own. Together with these are too many obvious close ups and landscape shots to ensure that the audience knows how to feel at a certain time. Again, this is an example of a technique that, if done right, can help to make a movie great. It however is used so often and obviously that it becomes tiresome. Some of these scenes do, however look very nice.
While a tad obvious, the cinematography generally looks very nice as far as individual shots are concerned. These can, however get tiresome. The camera is kept very close to the dialog to attempt an emotional feel. This makes sense in aid of getting the message across. I unfortunately found myself at time wishing they could take a step back and properly show us the story.
On a positive note, the movie is very well scored and acted. Particularly, Will Smith as our lead gives one of his best performances in years. This is aided by a great make up job giving him a refined, mature look.
Overall, while the movie looks nice, sounds nice and features a great central performance I was left disappointed. This is a story worth telling and with only a small amount of refining could have been a movie worth watching too.