Friday, January 13, 2017


Year 9, Day 13 - 1/13/17 - Movie #2,513

BEFORE:  It might not seem like great timing at first to watch a football-related film (actually, the second one this week, if you count "Focus") - the Super Bowl isn't until February 5, but I'm going to be knee-deep in February romance films then.  Please bear in mind that I re-scheduled this film from fall, which would have been more football-adjacent.  But for me, the NFL season doesn't start until the Patriots have their first playoff game.   That's when I start watching football, anyway - and that's coming up this weekend, so, really, I'm right on time.

Will Smith carries over from "Suicide Squad", and so does one other actor, and I'll follow another link tomorrow. 

THE PLOT: In Pittsburgh, accomplished pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play.

AFTER: Think about any scandal from the last 50 years - like Watergate, or Bill Clinton's affairs.  The fact that the makers of cigarettes (or saccharin, or aspartame, or asbestos) denied for so long that their products were harmful.  Pollution, the hole in the ozone layer, and now global warming. Sorry, "climate change".  I could go on and on, but what do they all have in common?  The parties responsible for wrongdoing will always try to deny or deflect for as long as possible, and only admit that something is dangerous when there is no other option, or when the press calls them out.  (And I believe this is something we're going to be seeing a LOT more of in the days ahead.)  

And the same is true with the NFL "concussion" scandals.  The NFL denied evidence for years, and kept sending guys with head injuries back into the game to play, because, damn it, winning isn't just everything, it's the only thing.  In a billion dollar industry beloved by many Americans, anything that could jeopardize the game is therefore bad for the country.  NFL was sort of like the McDonald's of sports - everyone probably figured that it wasn't good for anyone's health, but they just didn't have the exact figures, and didn't want to deal with that reality.  

(With any scandal, eventually the truth comes out, but the downside is, we've been through the cycle so many times that some people now complete the blame game in their minds, and leap to conclusions.  Well, of COURSE the pharmaceutical companies would deny that vaccinations cause autism, they don't want to admit liability, so that MUST mean that they're covering something up, and vaccines cause autism.  Yeah, there's faulty logic there, but good luck getting an anti-vaxxer to see it that way.  And that's part of the reason why "fake news" is thriving so much now, we've been fooled so many times that people are even willing to see scandal where there is none, because it's believable at the very least.)

But it's not about whether this issue is important, it's about whether this issue makes a good movie, or was it made into a movie in the proper way.  But in its own way, this is SUPER preachy, plus, this is the ONLY guy who could possibly ever figure out what was going on?  Come ON, give me a BREAK?  Don't you think someone else would have eventually figured out that smashing your head into another guy's helmet, again and again, is not a good idea?  I mean, of COURSE it isn't, everybody must have known that, even if nobody was talking about it directly.  

It reminds me of Isaac Newton, who gets all this credit for "discovering" gravity, but what happened before that?  Did people just drop things and wonder why they ended up on the floor?  Every time something fell, back before Newton, did people just shrug, or fail to notice that things fell down, and not up?  Of course not, everyone just kind of knew what gravity was, even if they didn't have a name for it, they didn't just live in complete ignorance.  Or like how Columbus "discovered" America, which is a crock because there were already people living there!  He didn't discover a damn thing, in the end, certainly nothing that some other European wouldn't have found eventually.  

But is anything really different now in the NFL?  I mean, knowing what we know, have they changed any of their procedures?  Because the game still looks the same to me, a fact alluded to at the end of the film by having Will Smith's character drive by a local high-school game, and still witness football players knocking heads.  

Also starring Alec Baldwin (last seen in "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation"), Albert Brooks (last seen in "This is 40"), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (last seen in "Larry Crowne"), David Morse (last seen in "16 Blocks"), Arliss Howard (last seen in "Amistad"), Mike O'Malley, Eddie Marsan (last seen in "The World's End"), Hill Harper, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (also carrying over from "Suicide Squad"), Richard T. Jones, Luke Wilson (last seen in "Around the World in 80 Days"), Stephen Moyer, Gary Grubbs (last seen in "The Astronaut's Wife"), Matthew Willig, with cameos from Paul Reiser (last seen in "Whiplash"), Holt McCallany (last seen in "Run All Night")

RATING: 4 out of 10 CT scans

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