By Catholic News Service
Fact-based profile of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), the Nigerian-born, Pittsburgh-based coroner whose autopsy of a retired professional football player (David Morse) led to his discovery that repeated jolts to the brain, such as those sustained on the gridiron, can cause a degenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.
Together with his supportive boss, famed pathologist Cyril Wecht (Albert Brooks), he publishes his findings, which gain him the backing of the Steelers’ former team physician (Alec Baldwin) but draw fierce opposition from the NFL whose in-house medical staff (led by Paul Reiser) schemes to vilify the outsider and discredit his research. Helping him endure these attacks is a recent immigrant from Kenya (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) to whom he first gives shelter — and then his heart.
Working from a 2009 magazine article by Jeanne Marie Laskas, writer-director Peter Landesman presents viewers with the portrait of a generally admirable character shaped, more than anything else, by his devout Catholic faith. Earnest and idealistic, but leavened with humor, only the fact that its avidly patriotic protagonist’s Christian morals do not extend to the bedroom, together with some salty language in the script, hinders endorsement for teens of this otherwise appealing film.
Gory medical images, a premarital situation, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, a couple of rough terms, occasional crude language.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.