Films that reflect on a bad moment have to be taken with a grain of salt, however, the extreme tension that the real Richard Jewell experienced is almost just as bad as depicted. The world looked down on someone who just tried their best to save everyone. Clint Eastwood’s take on the situation with his film Richard Jewell brings forward that light and gives us a way to remember it.
Once the film rolls in, we get introduced to a lot of characters that are all going to be involved with this case in some way, shape, or form. Once the gears start turning and the story is moving, the film is built as a Jewell vs. the world situation. While this works great for a film, you can’t help but wonder what was true or not. At various points of Richard Jewell I found the characters to be too far one way or another. Jewell, played by Paul Walter Hauser, came off as almost so extremely wholesome and stupid that you wondered if it was actually flattering. Other characters such as Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde, who was based on the real life counterpart, was depicted as a sex-fueled reporter who was sleeping her way to the story; which when this whole storyline got started off I feel as a viewer you couldn’t help but think she’s being roasted.
This is what starts to make the film feel disconnected, and when you’re based off a real event, there’s only so far you can go before you wonder why you aren’t watching someone’s fictitious story instead. You never want to think that the movie trying to clear a name that was twisted into falsehood is doing the same to another character right in front of your eyes. The parts of the film that focus on the bombing and the pressure that Jewell felt hit hard, but the other parts just seem like fluff propaganda.
Richard Jewell is about the 1996 Olympic bombing that was discovered by security guard Richard Jewell, who while at first was praised as a hero, was soon the target of nationwide scrutiny when it was leaked by the FBI that he was the lead person of interest in the bombing. From here we go through the struggles that Jewell and his mother endure as more and more look to him as the bomber.
I love a good redemption film, and I think this one was good in achieving that. You never stopped rooting for Jewell and there was always some sort of roadblock that you were just hoping would fix itself before it piled up into more of an issue. The twists and turns are all fully enjoyable and I couldn’t ask for more.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
There’s a good cast of characters besides Jewell and Scruggs, including FBI agent Tom Shaw as played by John Hamm, Jewell’s mother Bobi played by Kathy Bates, and Jewell’s lawyer Wattson Bryant played by Sam Rockwell. The latter two are absolutely awesome. Bates made you really feel how sad it must have been for someone as closely affected as Bobi was, and Rockwell slowly grows a friendship with Hauser’s Jewell and you can’t help but smile when they have their moments. I want to give praise to Hauser’s Richard Jewell too. The only issue I have, as mentioned earlier, is Jewell is portrayed a bit slower than I feel he may have been, but the moments that show his heart, such as the beginning when he hands out a candy bar or when he tries his best but everyone turns their back on him for being a simple security guard. I had much more praise than I had negative still at the end of the day.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
As one would expect in a Clint Eastwood, the score really sets the backdrop and I found that fitting here. Arturo Sandoval lays down a nice background drop to really not distract from what’s going on in the plot. A supplement here with only the extreme moments being accented was the strongest way to go.
1996 has an aesthetic to it and Richard Jewell fits it. The clothing style, the entertainment, the culture. As for the makeup, each person in here who had a real life counterpart fit their look pretty well, aside from Wilde in my opinion. From everything to replicating the people to the setting, I was very happy here.
There were a lot of questionable moments through the movie, and while I mostly enjoyed what I saw, I can’t help but want to do some research to see if a lot of this stuff actually happened. It felt so disconnected at times, and I feel bad for how hypocritical the movie got to be. Even so, I had a good time. I’m glad we got to root for the innocent man who probably felt the biggest burden for having done the right thing and I’m glad we got to have more light shed on a bad moment of weakness our FBI had. I still loved where this film went, and even through the flaws, I’m happily able to recommend it to watch.