The movie “Concussion” has caught the attention of the National Football League and observers who feared that the film may be neutered. Well, the movie had its first screening this week at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles.

Getting rave notices is Will Smith who stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who discovers CTE in deceased former Pittsburgh Steelers players and gains the attention not just the medical community, but from an angry NFL.

Reviews from those who saw the World Premiere on Tuesday are out and while they praise director Peter Landesman and the cast for tackling a tough subject, they also say the movie doesn’t go far enough.

The Hollywood Reporter says the cast does its best with the script, but overall, the movie could be better:

As a piece of filmmaking, Concussion is competent but not inspired. The brief flashes of violence on the football field make their point in a rather pro forma way; they don’t quite achieve the necessary impact.

The Wrap wasn’t so kind saying the movie has a thin plot:

There are few institutions more Goliathan than the NFL, but that doesn’t make the underdog story in “Concussion” any more compelling. The tale of one doctor’s crusade to tell the truth about the devastating consequences of chronic head injuries among football players is timely but dreary and dramatically inept.

The Playlist says the movie’s message is muted:

A lack of pace and illuminating insight are what keep “Concussion” from lasting resonance, its flaws threatening to dull the issue for drama in a way that the NFL could only appreciate.

Indiewire’s Anne Thompson writes that the movie gets bogged down with character development and speeches.

The Boston Herald agrees with Thompson that there are plot complications:

“,,,the film never quite trusts its audience enough to dive down any interesting rabbit holes, and it stumbles when it attempts to flesh out Omalu’s personal life with scenes that work well enough on their own, but stop the pic’s momentum in its tracks.”

Reviews also appear to be amused at the casting of Luke Wilson as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The movie will be released on Christmas Day.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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