DIRECTED BY: Clint Eastwood
STARRING: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde, Nina Arianda, Ian Gomez, Wayne Duvall, Dylan Kussman, Mike Pniewski and Eric Mendenhall
American security guard Richard Jewell saves thousands of lives from an exploding bomb at the 1996 Olympics, but is vilified by journalists and the press who falsely reported that he was a terrorist.
Richard Jewell is based on the true events surrounding the 1996 bombing in Centennial Park, particularly a security guard whose swift actions saved countless lives. But within days, the story becomes Richard Jewell becomes the number one suspect, with media reporting it as fact, obscuring the truth.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, Richard Jewell focuses on the true story of a security guard who discovers a suspicious package in Centennial Park which happens to be a bomb. Due to his swift actions, Richard Jewell is labelled as a hero by the people and media across the country. Unfortunately, within days of the event, Richard Jewell becomes the FBI’s number one suspect and his life is turned upside down as he is vilified by the press and public alike and he reaches out for help from independent, anti-establishment attorney Watson Bryant.
I like how it doesn’t sugarcoat Richard Jewell’s previous actions before the bombing, showing why the FBI were right to at least take a look at wannabe police officer and we as audience learn about his past actions, particularly one time he was arrested for exceeding his authority. Some of the scenes are well executed, particularly the slow-burn build-up to the event of Richard Jewell finding the suspicious package, right up to the bomb detonating, I believed that was well directed and edited. Paul Walter Hauser is an actor that’s been scene stealing in supporting roles for the last few years (on the small screen from MMA series Kingdom to Cobra Kai, to the big screen in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman) and now in a leading role, he absolutely shines on screen with his fantastic performance as Richard Jewell. The portrayal of Jewell is that of a naive fool, who is the badges favourite fan, even though their intent is to turn up the pressure on him to crack under the weight of them putting the foot down on him and the media cranking up the heat, in order for him to confess. Though he’s an idiot, Jewell is not completely dumb as he knows that what’s happening to him is wrong and he eventually fights back. There’s also the methods in which the FBI attempt to obtain any kind of evidence/confession out of Jewell that will result in some vocal outbursts from the audience. In terms of the supporting cast I thought Sam Rockwell gave a good performance as Waston Byrant, Jewell’s attorney who has his own history with him and proceeds to help him be absolved of the case and Kathy Bates also gives a good performance as Jewell’s mother Bobi. Clint Eastwood’s direction is as solid as ever here, with the film having some nice cinematography work from Yves Bélanger.
While a lot of the storyline between Jon Hamm’s FBI Agent Tom Shaw and Olivia Wilde’s Kathy Scruggs has been discussed a lot during the films initial release in America and how that whole plot into how Kathy Scruggs got the scoop on Richard Jewell being the prime suspect was fabricated, which is a shame as in how the whole point of the film is how the media shames someone into being visualised as the villain of the story and yet, this film might have taken the hypocritical approach in doing the exact same thing. In terms of the films duration, it does take a while for the story to get going as it spends a lot of time with Jewell before he becomes a security guard during the Atlanta Olympics ceremony, meaning a bit of the film could’ve been trimmed off. The films primary focus is, of course, Richard Jewell, so if anyone that knows the true story believes they’re coming in to also learn about the actual bomber, Eric Rudolph, then they’re sadly mistaken.
Clint’s reaching the age of ninety-years-old and he’s still creating captivating dramas, especially in recent years focusing on true stories of ordinary men that have been wronged, and Richard Jewell is one of his best ones in a while. It’s well directed and Paul Walter Hauser gives a fantastic performance as the title character. The supporting cast is solid too, including Sam Rockwell and Kathy Bates.