“There’s a bomb in Centennial Park. You have thirty minutes.”
I was too young to remember the aftermath that surrounded the bombing of Centennial Park in 1996. Although, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing for some reason has always impacted me for one reason or another. But Richard Jewell, the hero of the Centennial Park bombing, fell victim to the rush reporting that can occur when trying break the story first. In this Clint Eastwood drama, Richard Jewell tells the story of Mr. Jewell, an overzealous and quirky security guard, whose quick thinking helps save lives, but soon puts him in the crosshairs of the FBI. Jewell soon finds himself at the center of a media and government firestorm, trying hard to clear his name. Richard Jewell fits so perfectly into Eastwood’s repertoire, as he so obviously loves to tell the stories of unsung heroes. But Richard Jewell marks Eastwood’s best film in over a decade.
It’s almost certain that Eastwood illustrates the story of Mr. Jewell to convey his own disapproval about the current state of the media, in addition to the heavy government hand that so often rocks the boat. More importantly, how a critical event resulted in the media and government being completely misinformed. Though some outlets have since retracted the accusations involving Mr. Jewell, the damage has been done. But whatever you choose to believe, or whether or not you choose to watch a film of this magnitude that is so saturated in controversy, is completely up to you. Richard Jewell is such an incredibly sad story that will resonate with you no matter where you lie. Jewell’s life is turned upside down because of the heinous accusations made by the FBI, and are only reinforced by reporter, Kathy Scruggs. It’s a fine line of not wanting to rush to judgement, and yet believing those victims, which Eastwood tries to lean you more towards one side than the other. Richard Jewell is an intriguing story, but one that could have been better executed. Eastwood, reverts to the Eastwood of recent years. The film becomes stagnate and often repeats the same plot points over and over again.
Paul Walter Hauser, most known for the stupid, chubby guy, in films like I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman, brings a more serious tone to the role of Mr. Jewell. Hauser is compelling, but you can still see the quirky qualities that Hauser portrays in his other roles. Not to mention, his funny wit that lies beneath the surface. The performances are great, with both Kathy Bates and Sam Rockwell leading the charge. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen acting from Bates of this caliber. It truly is something to see as her character, Bobi Jewell, is the heart of this film. Her emotional plea towards the end is something to be in awe of. Bates digs deep, and brings this character to life. And in the end, though Rockwell may not be at his best, it is still some superb acting as he plays Jewell’s outspoken lawyer, Watson Bryant. It’s always a treat to see Rockwell in any performance.
The story of Richard Jewell is a tough pill to swallow. With Eastwood’s savvy direction, combined with great performances from the cast, Richard Jewell is a poignant story that reveals the true story of hero whose life was publicly torn apart.
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm, and Kathy Bates