Richard Jewell Review

Richard Jewell

The 1996 Centennial Park Bombing in Atlanta was a tragedy to the eyes of the world at the time. However, it could’ve been way, way worse if it weren’t for the quick actions by the security guards and law enforcement officers working the event on that day. Thanks to them, the death toll could’ve been higher. Unfortunately, one of the men went from being a hero to a villain in just three days. That’s the premise of Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Richard Jewell. But is Richard Jewell a return to form for the legendary director after two lackluster movies?

You bet it is.

Clint Eastwood’s latest film is an engaging portrayal of a man wrongly accused of bombing Centennial Park. It’s also a film that highlights the dangerous effect the media has on smear campaigns.

Richard Jewell follows the title character as he fights to clear his name alongside his friend and lawyer, Watson Bryant.

Richard Jewell - Paul Walter Hauser

Richard Jewell’s story may have been well-known back in the day but it’s now lost in time. That may be a good thing though. If people still knew his name to this very day then it must be because he was responsible for the Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Nevertheless, the story of Richard Jewell is important—especially nowadays. The movie celebrates heroism and is a true real-life David vs. Goliath story.

That’s what makes his story so sad. Richard Jewell’s sole dream was to be in law enforcement. As a result, he’s willing to cooperate with the FBI even though they’re trying to frame him for the bombing. There’s that level of trust there that only went one way. It’s also frustrating to see that the FBI would rather frame someone than look for the real bomber.

So the more that the FBI questions Richard, the more we delve deeper into his mindset. We see that he truly has a good heart and is respectful to law enforcement—despite their actions toward him. To a degree, this is going to get annoying. But you realize that that is who Richard is—he’s trusting and blind to a fault. Be that as it may, the film fairly portrays Richard in a fair way as well. The movie does show the audience plenty of reasons why the FBI is labeling him as a suspect. He isn’t perfect but we, as an audience, know what the truth is.

That’s why it’s refreshing to see someone completely different from Richard be his friend and confidant. Watson Bryant is the perfect friend and lawyer for him. Both are scrappy underdogs in their own right, and that’s the exact reason why you root for them. You don’t want to see the government screwing over honest and good people.

Richard Jewell - Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, and Paul Walter Hauser

None of this sympathy would be possible if it weren’t for the strong performances by Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, and Kathy Bates. First of all, Paul Walter Hauser is lovable as the title character. He brings a naivety and subtle sweetness to his performance. It’s these kinds of characteristics that makes Richard Jewell a character that you can root for.

Once again, Sam Rockwell shows us why he’s one of the best actors working today. His aggressive and honest style seems to fit the character quite well. His natural charm also adds to the likability of the character as well. But it’s Kathy Bates’ emotional and sympathetic performance that gives the film its heart and soul. It’s because of her that we feel bad about Richard’s dilemma in the first place. Even if you’re a parent or not, you can still feel bad at her helplessness.

Overall, Richard Jewell is a crowd-pleasing film that celebrates heroism despite the odds against Richard. He was never supposed to survive this but because of Richard’s resilience and Watson’s dedication, heroes won’t ever be afraid to do the right thing. His story may be forgotten but Richard Jewell deserves to be remembered as the man who saved a ton of lives on July 27, 1996.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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