Starring: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde
Written By: Billy Ray
Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Studio: Warner Bros
Buy On Amazon.com
Richard Jewell is the latest Clint Eastwood directed film that probably should have gotten more attention than it did. It’s certainly an intriguing movie about the man wrongly accused of the Olympics bombing in 1996.
The movie starts with Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) working as a supply clerk in an attorney’s office in the late 80s. He builds a friendship with the attorney, Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell). Years later, after working various security jobs, he’s working security at the Olympics in Atlanta. He notices a suspicious package at a concert and tells the authorities. The bomb goes off and while he’s initially hailed a hero for spotting the bomb, the FBI soon suspect he’s behind the bombing. He enlists the help of Watson to be his lawyer.
I remember the Olympics in 1996 fairly well, since I was in high school. I didn’t follow it all the time but knew of Richard Jewell being in the news so damn much. I don’t know if I simply just don’t remember or the news never really reported it when he was vindicated and someone else confessed to the bombing. I do remember the 90s being the turning point with 24 hour cable news reporting on stuff so much that it was exhausting to follow. OJ, The Menendez Brothers, Tonya Harding, and this. Clint Eastwood’s film about Richard Jewell shows just what it was like to be on the receiving end of all these news stories will pretty much ruin your life.
Paul Walter Hauser was great as Jewell, which he seems to be the go-to guy for two 90s figures from the Tonya Harding story (I, Tonya) and then this. Kathy Bates got some nominations for her portrayal as Jewell’s mother Bobi. Bobi saw her son being treated unfairly in the media and the FBI gung-ho-ing towards him and she played the part flawlessly. I thought the real stand out besides Hauser was Sam Rockwell, who played Watson Bryant. Rockwell is just awesome in every role. Jon Hamm plays the prick-ish FBI agent which was a composite character and did it well.
The biggest controversy about this film that might have hurt some of it’s chances at the box office was involving Olivia Wilde’s character journalist Kathy Scruggs. In the movie, she sleeps with FBI agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm) to get some info and writes a story about Jewell in The Constitution afterwards. Many thought that was over the line and sexist, as well as putting a bad spotlight on the film since Scruggs died in 2001. Wilde defended her character in the movie and shifted blame to the FBI for doing the same thing but no one was questioning that. I can see both sides of the argument. The bigger picture here is a journalist rushing to get the story out before seeing the whole truth. This is the era we live in currently. Everything is “breaking news” and every journalist and reporter is trying to get that one big scoop. In a nutshell, I think this is what the movie is about. The results of that and how sometimes it can go one way, and sometimes go the other way and ruin people’s lives in the process.
The special features include 2 featurettes: the Real Story of Richard Jewell and the Making Of Richard Jewell. The two featurettes are about 6 minutes or so in length and go over the basics about Richard Jewell the person, the movie, and how Bobi Jewell and Watson Bryant were on set a lot to consult. The other one is just talking about the overall story and why Clint Eastwood was keen on directing this film.
Richard Jewell should be seen despite some controversies. Clint Eastwood depicts what happens when the FBI and the media rush to judgment and shows us how it can ruin peoples’ lives. I think it’s an important movie to be told in this day and age when it comes to the media. This is now available on digital, 4k, Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros.
The Real Story of Richard Jewell
The Making of Richard Jewell
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Bottom Line: An interesting story about the man wrongly accused of the Olympic Bombing in Atlanta
Running Time: 131 mins