There's a "things that go bump in the night" kind of scary, and then there's a "maybe I'm a hypochondriac and also a conspiracy theorist" kind of scary. The new trailer for Will Smith's Concussion shows that the movie is almost definitely going to be the latter. There's political intrigue, medical drama, and more than one death threat, and that's just in the two-and-a-half minute trailer that premiered earlier today. The movie is a kind of football thriller — it's about the efforts of one doctor (Nigerian-born Bennet Omalu, played by Will Smith) to shed light on the traumatic brain injuries ruining the lives of professional football players. A spate of suicides and untimely deaths brought increasing attention to the issue, which is now the subject of the movie.
But it's an inflammatory issue, and the trailer reflects the difficulties Omalu must have faced in his attempt to bring forward his claims. When the Sony hackers released the company's email archives, Concussion was the subject of much scrutiny — as the New York Times reported in September, the emails seemed to indicate that filmmakers and Sony's lawyers had worked together to tone down the script and make it less antagonistic towards the NFL. Even if so, they still left behind some pretty unnerving scenes.
Because what remains is a sense that not only did the NFL know that the sport and its regulations as they stood were negatively impacting its players, but that its leaders disregarded the health risks. Check out the trailer below, and stick around for the six most terrifying lines in a pretty bleak two minutes of your day.
1. "I Am The Wrong Person To Have Discovered This."
Earlier in the trailer, Smith's character tells a story of how thrilled he had been to come to America, to be an American. So when he tells the same woman, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, that he's the "wrong person" to have made this particular scientific breakthrough, sitting in the same location, there's an eerie parallel between the scenes. It gives the sense that Americans might not be keen listen to outsiders when doing so would reveal such a dark truth about a sport that, as a character later says, "owns a day of the week" over here.
2. "The NFL Has Known About The Concussion Issue For Years."
That uneasy sense that the NFL did what it could to sweep aside the medical concerns confronting its players? Well, it probably comes from Alec Baldwin's character coming right out and saying it: "The NFL has known about the concussion issue for years," he proclaims grimly, telling Omalu to back off. It's not a flattering perspective.
3. "What Are You Looking For?"
The words no patient wants to hear.
4. "Repetitive Head Trauma Chokes The Brain."
Omalu is not sugar-coating his findings.
5. "Tape, needles, Vicodin, Toridol, whatever it takes to keep them in the game."
One of these might be less familiar — Toridol is a drug used to treat extreme pain, often supplied to patients after they undergo surgery. It's horrifying to think that these players are working through a pain equivalent to having your body sliced open and worked on and then sewed back together again. And yet somehow, not entirely surprising, given the pressure placed on high-caliber professional athletes.
6. "Drop It, Or They'll Be Doing Your Autopsy, Mr. Omalu."
In print, this line reads like the over-dramatized threat of a pulp thriller. But no, this is something that someone says in all seriousness in the Concussion trailer. Proceed with caution.
Concussion is billed as a medical drama-turned-high stakes thriller; it's just as much about what follows Omalu's findings as the medical research itself. Though the findings on brain injuries are alarming enough, the noir-tinged drama is heightened by the car chases and explosions alluded to in the new trailer. And in the end, both are pretty scary.
Images: Columbia Pictures (7)