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Stars: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Morse, Albert Brooks, Arliss Howard, Eddie Marsan, Hill Harper, Paul Reiser, Luke Wilson

Director: Peter Landesman

It seems amazing that it took so long for the physical dangers of American football, in particular long-term brain damage that would drive some sufferers out of their minds, to break the surface and become properly acknowledged.

This account shows how, thanks mainly to the efforts and perception of a Nigerian-born American doctor, Bennet Omalu (Smith), they finally did.

Until recent times, though, those who ran the National Football League were in such a state of denial - fearing the consequences for the game if Omalu's findings were made public - that they went to any lengths to stop him and the one-time NFC sports doctor (Baldwin) reluctantly at his side.

Like Smith's performance, the film is carefully constructed, but plodding at times: although worthy and a story that needed to be told, it somehow fails to stir the blood. And a sideline romance between Smith and Mbatha-Raw is too low-key to really catch fire.

Despite its flaws, however, this remains a fiim worth making, as the problems of CTE (chronic traumatic encephelopathy), caused by constant head-to-head clashes, though hardly likely to go away, are at last being tackled. One just wishes the film itself carried a more powerful impact.

David Quinlan

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by deluxe.
123 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 06 Feb 2016