Heroism, what it sometimes takes, what it can lead to has been a longstanding interest of Clint Eastwood’s, from his onscreen vigilante icons to his behind-the-camera explorations of real figures in ‘Flags of our Fathers’, ‘American Sniper’ and ‘Sully’.
‘Richard Jewell’ is Director Eastwood’s is his 38th film and his deep dive into the subject is a harrowing case study for sure. The brave do-gooder-turned-suspect, vilified through mainstream media originally intended to praise him.
Director Eastwood subtly points to the the deep seated FBI and MSM corruption we are seeing in Washington DC now.
In Y 1996, Mr. Jewell was an Atlanta Olympics security guard when he discovered a suspicious backpack that eventually exploded, killing 2 and wounding about 100.
Initial publicity made this unassuming figure a life-saving Star, since the death toll could have been higher.
But when word got out that the FBI considered him their prime suspect, the aspects of his life that were not so media-friendly: overweight, wannabe cop, lived with his mother were suddenly turned against him by the FBI and the MSM into evidence of someone craving attention.
The movie Mr. Eastwood has made of this peculiar ordeal — from a screenplay by Billy Ray, based on Marie Brenner’s 1997 Vanity Fair article and a new book on the case lays it out carefully; a excentric nightmare
Paul Hauser’s sympathetic performance as Jewell and Sam Rockwell’s as his faithful lawyer add clarity to the drama this film carefully delivers.
Mr. Eastwood did not turn a wrongful accusation story into a button-pushing triumph of nostalgic sadness. Kathy Bates in fine form as son Richard’s adoring, stricken mother Bobi, and Jon Hamm working his stiff acting power as the FBI agent who, along with his partner tries to trick Mr. Jewell into confessing. The 2 agents’ illegal tactics, including asking him to read the bomber’s threatening 911 message into a telephone really happened.
‘Richard Jewell‘ begins softly with scenes that set up the trusting, kind and simple idealistic aspects of Mr. Jewell’s personality that would in turn both help and harm him.
Prior to the Atlanta Olympics, Mr. Jewell’s aggressive policing during short-lived career as an overly assertive, rules-minded small college campus cop at earned him the contempt of the school’s President. And that jealous man’s phone call to the FBI after Mr. Jewell’s 1st burst of hero fame would change the narrative as to what Mr. Jewell’s heroic behavior implied.
The bombing sequence is very suspenseful. And in the aftermath we see Mr. Jewell react with dutiful modesty to the media attention, making sure to spread credit to the various law enforcement agencies who helped.
But when the story turns toward the corrupt FBI agent, in bed with a an aggressive scurrilous Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter played by a sultry Olivia Wilde, and the mess they ultimately make of Mr. Jewell’s simple existence, the tone becomes scandalous.
The dynamic between Hauser’s Jewell and Rockwell’s Bryant is a piece of compelling compassion laced with bit of humor deeply explored by Mr. Eastwood and his Key players.
‘Richard Jewell’ closes with an official “not a target” exoneration by the FBI The sense of a terrible injustice finally righted is not recognized by the corrupt FBI agents plus a few where-are-they-now facts.
The audience in the theater that I saw the film stood up and cheered.
See it film it is another very serious work from Director Clint Eastwood, and distributed by Warner Brothers (a private corporation).
Have a terrific New Year Holiday week.