It took a minute for me to write this review because I wanted to get it right. Clint Eastwood directs ‘Richard Jewell,’ a biopic about a security guard who experienced a trial by media after heroically saving people from a bombing.
Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) is a security guard who dreams of being a cop to the point of suggesting that he is a ‘law enforcement official.’ On July 27, 1996, at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, he spots a suspicious backpack. After alerting the authorities, who discover it is a bomb, he assists in the evacuation saving many lives before it explodes. At first, he is hailed as a hero and receives congratulations, especially from his mom Barbara “Bobi” Jewell (Kathy Bates). However, things change when local reporter Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) bribes FBI Agent Shaw (Jon Hamm) to drop his name as a suspect in the bombing. When Richard realizes he is a target, he contacts lawyer Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell) who begins to defend Richard with the help of his secretary Nadya (Nina Arianda) after he realizes the time-table proves that Jewell is innocent.
Eastwood is at the top of his game with directing this modern masterpiece. He does not hesitate to show the down and dirty tactics that the powers who were against Richard Jewell used to try to intimidate and frame him for a crime he did not commit. That is what this movie is about: power. The mainstream media, who has the power of print and video, that can smear a man who is, in reality, a hero.
Hauser, Bates, and Rockwell are amazing in their roles and their performances electrify the screen. You can feel the emotions of the characters at the frustration, despair, and anger as law enforcement and the press wield their power against them. Likewise, Hamm and Wilde are excellent as the two people responsible for targeting Richard. Even after they realize that they are abusing this power, they try to cover their own tracks instead of doing the right thing. These performances are top-notch and show their talent to the point where you tear up at what you are witnessing before your eyes.
The cinematography is done by Yves Bélanger, who previously worked on the Eastwood film The Mule. It is amazing and adds to the emotions of the movie. There was a particular shot when the press realizes Richard is a suspect and they surround him as he goes voluntarily with the FBI. The way the scene is shot resembles sharks surrounding their prey as he heads to his vehicle. It is a prophetic look at the trial by media Jewell will face.
Of course, the mainstream media hated this film because it highlights all of the faults of the press. Selling themselves to get the story, targeting an innocent man for ratings, spreading all kinds of sensational gossip made up by the reporters, all for their own agenda. Likewise, it shows the media’s influence on the government and how they have an almost abusive relationship, much to the detriment of the ordinary American. It is history, but also a metaphor of the social media age.
Bottom line, Richard Jewell is a modern masterpiece from Clint Eastwood. He tells the story of Richard Jewell in an inspiring way that is emotional, raw, and relevant to this era where the media have so much power to make or break a person.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Violence, Some innuendo
FAVORITE QUOTE: A little power can turn a person into a monster.
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie review of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker and CS Johnson’s movie review of The Aeronauts. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.