PG-13 for thematic material, including some disturbing images, and language | In Theaters 12/25 | Ok for Kids 13+ | Columbia/Sony | Reel Review: 4.5 of 5 Reels | Concussion

"Concussion" is one of Will Smith's best performances. He plays the super-smart Dr. Bennet Omalu with passion, grace and caring, and his Nigerian accent is flawless.

The story follows the good doctor at his Pittsburgh medical examiner's office, where he performs autopsies with great respect for the bodies. But he's puzzled by his latest case - local football legend Mike Webster, who spiraled into a haze of drugs before dying for no obvious reason. Omalu determines that Webster's brain is damaged, the result of years of hits to the head playing football. What's more, other football players are at risk for the same fate.

The doctor identifies the condition as "chronic traumatic encephalopathy" (CTE), and must go up against the powerful NFL, which tries to discredit him rather than admit that football is dangerous. Omalu pursues his cause, with support from love interest Prema Mutiso (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Dr. Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin).

Even though I'm not a huge football fan, I loved "Concussion," both because of the story and Smith's portrayal of the gracious doctor. It's a well done "David vs. Goliath" film about an important issue.

PARENT INFO: "Concussion" includes several violent football scenes, leaving players dazed or unconscious, as well as some intense moments when retired, brain-damaged players become angry and uncontrollable. Some drinking, mild kissing, and a scene of foreplay which leads to sex (which isn't shown). Language includes "s--t" and one vehement "f--k."


One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Boursaw is the film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Contact her at and check out the shop for fresh editorial content. Images used with permission of the studios and distributors.