Film Review – Richard Jewell

One of the advantages of being settled into our apartment is that I can now visit the cinema during the day while Dani is at school. On Tuesday Dani finishes a little later which means I can now get to watch a movie that I would not be able to take him to see after school. There are a few I wanted to see over these next few weeks.

One of them was Richard Jewell, directed by Clint Eastwood.

The Plot

In 1996 during an Olympic Games celebration at Centennial Park in Atlanta a pipe-bomb exploded killing one and injuring over one hundred. Richard Jewell was a security guard at that event and was the person who discovered the bomb (as a suspicious package, back-pack actually). His quick thinking and reporting to the police undoubtedly saved many lives. Initially he was declared a hero by law enforcement and media alike. However, later things started to turn sour when, during FBI investigations a former employer of Jewell comes forward with tales of how he had acted outside his jurisdiction while serving as a security guard at a college campus.

The FBI decide that Jewell is a lone white male, living with his mother who is a “wannabe” police officer. They believe he fits a “profile” and that he panted the bomb so he could “discover it” and be the hero. Ultimately hoping to join the police force in recognition of his bravery etc…

Once Jewell realises what is happening he calls a lawyer (Watson Bryant) who he had more or less befriended when he was a clerk at a public law firm several years previous. Bryant, now a struggling solo legal operation, soon realises Jewell is innocent and does everything he can to help him.

Although Jewell was never formally charged the story goes deep into the heart of trial by media and false allegations by character assassination.

I cannot spoil it as this is all based on the real events. Jewell is taken off the suspects list and eventually gets an apology and a job in the police force.

The Cast

Jewell is played magnificently by Paul Walter Hauser. His mother ‘Bobi’ Jewell is played by the well-known actress Kathy Bates.

Sam Rockwell is excellent as Jewell’s friend and lawyer Watson Bryant. I think Rockwell is one of those under-rated actors. The main roles that spring immediately to my mind are as William “Wild Bill” Wharton in The Green Mile (1999) and Justin Hammer, the arms producing nemesis of Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 (2010). But Rockwell has been in movies since the late 1980s including: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Heist, The Call Back, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Frost/Nixon and Vice – to name but a few.

Clint and Conclusion

Eastwood the actor was never that great for me. Sure, I always liked him and he was in many enjoyable, even great, movies. Some of which I have watched multiple times and could do so again. As a director however Eastwood is becoming a master of telling the true life story. American Sniper and Sully were two of his other ‘real life is stranger than fiction’ masterpieces. Both excellent films. Richard Jewell is equally well told and is both gripping and emotional.

I remembered the park bombing in 1996 but did not recall hearing or reading about what happened to Jewell. Even if you know the full history it would not spoil the viewing and I can thoroughly recommend this movie.

Another Aussie Cinema thing…

The theatre was sparsely populated due to the time and it being the day’s first showing. Initially I thought there were only four pensioners. Five if you count me! But the Aussies seem to come in late, just before the start of the movie. They do not seem interested in the trailers for other movies. Personally, I like all that. It is part of the cinema experience.

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