Richard Jewell Review
What’s It About?
The true story behind the Atlanta Olympic Games bombing in 1996, where a vigilant security guard spotted the suspect package and became an overnight hero. But pretty soon the authorities have him in their sights as the terrorist behind the atrocity.
Who’s In It?
Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya, BlackKklansman, & more recently Late Night)
Sam Rockwell (Moon, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, & more recently Jojo Rabbit)
Other notables include:
Jon Hamm (Mad Men, The Town, Baby Driver, & more recently The Report)
Olivia Wilde (House MD, Tron, Rush, & more recently Life Itself) Kathy Bates (Misery, Titanic, & more recently American Horror Story)
Director: Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, The Changeling, & more recently The Mule)
The latest in Clint Eastwood’s heroic tales, following Sully and the 15:17 To Paris, Richard Jewell tells the true story of a security guard who spots a suspicious package at the 1996 Summer Olympic in Atlanta.
A wannabe law enforcement office, this is a man who plays everything by the book, and thank goodness he does, as his actions save the life of thousands of people as there is a pipe bomb in the rucksack.
Yet just a few days after being paraded around as a hero, the FBI become obsessed with the fact that he is their prime suspect – a potentially fame-hungry opportunist wanting to make a name for himself. And so he literally goes from hero to zero, hounded by the authorities and the press, until eventually he manages to clear his name.
As ever, director Clint Eastwood has managed to assemble an impressive cast. Relative newcomer Paul Walter Hauser, known thusfar for playing characters one brick short of a load in I, Tonya and BlackKklansman, is impressive as the relatively simple but good-hearted Jewell, while there is a scene-stealing performance from his lawyer, a sassy Sam Rockwell.
Kathy Bates plays Jewell’s distraught mother, whose presence grows in the film as her character’s suffering increases, earning herself an Oscar nomination in the process, while Jon Hamm plays a fairly vanilla FBI agent hell-bent on taking Jewell down. However, the main controversy seems to have come from Olivia Wilde’s publicity-seeking journalist Kathy Scruggs, giving the impression that this real-life character sold sex for intel, which has not gone down well.
All in all, it’s a fascinating tale of the toll a simple man had to wrongfully bear thanks to something of a witchhunt from the media and the law authorities, but it is somewhat simplistically told. The media and the FBI are portrayed as completely out of control, while some of the set pieces feel a little small in scale, giving this something of a TV movie feel. That said though, Sam Rockwell and Paul Walter Hauser’s performances prove thoroughly engaging throughout.
In A Nutshell:
A fascinating true story, with engaging performances from Sam Rockwell and Paul Walter Hauser, but a little simplistic at times.
Paul Walter-Hauser & Sam Rockwell’s performances
The shocking nature of the story The cast
Despite the cast, it does feel a bit low budget/TV movie at times
The controversy surrounding Olivia Wilde's character