In his latest biopic role, Will Smith plays Dr Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-born forensic pathologist who was the first to identify chronic brain damage as a factor in the deaths of some National Football League players. He discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of Pro Football Hall of Fame player Mike Webster in 2002.
Yes, Smith’s ‘Nigerian’ accent is annoying and he looks nothing like Dr Omalu but shouldn’t we be used to this by now? From Denzel Washington playing Steve Biko in 1987, Forest Whittaker as Idi Amin in 2006 to Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela in 2013, it’s safe to say that the Hollywood machine with it’s inflated budgets and numerous dialect coaches has consistently failed to reproduce the nuances of African accents.
With all that in mind, however, it’s always interesting to see Hollywood produce biopics of African people who are or were less known by global audiences. When a huge drawcard like Will Smith is used to depict the story of a civilian, a person whose work precedes his name and shook a multi-billion dollar industry to its foundations – well, that’s something to see.
Concussion is expected for release on December 25. Check out the trailer below.