As brilliant Nigerian-born neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, Will Smith speaks gently to the dead on his autopsy table at the Pittsburgh coroner’s office, urging them to give up the secrets of their demise.
Based on a true story, stronger conversations are required when Omalu begins to unravel the mystery of why former pro football players were experiencing rage-filled dementia, often leading to violence and early death. He names his discovery Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
Surely the NFL wants to know about the lethal results of “game brain”? Unfamiliar with football’s hold on America, Omalu is surprised to learn the league has no interest in upsetting the money-making status quo.
Writer-director Peter Landesman often gets stuck in the soft stuff in between hitting the NFL hard while a side-plot that sees Omalu wooing of future wife Prema (an underused Gugu Mbatha-Raw) never fits and only slows down the under-realized standard biopic.