Richard Jewell tells the true story of a security guard praised for saving countless lives after a bomb was left in Centennial Park, only to be blamed for planting it.
“There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have thirty minutes.” The movie starts with these infamous words spoken in a payphone. We can’t see the perpetrator leaving you thinking “who dunnit?”
That’s what Clint Eastwood’s movie looks into. American security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) saves thousands of lives from an exploding bomb at the 1996 Olympics. But he is soon vilified by the american press who falsely report him as a terrorist.
What follows is pretty predictable, the press turn on Richard and his life turns to tatters. But rather irritatingly he refuses to stand up for himself, remaining a passenger in his own story.
It got to the point that if Richard said “I’m law enforcement too” one more time I was worried I may scream from sheer frustration and be removed from the movie theatre.
Much like in The Post when Meryl Streep’s character Kay Graham refuses to take action, refuses to stand up for herself, to make her voice known, Richard is the same. It leads to a character that you can’t relate to, that to some degree irratates you. It’s a tricky character arc which both movies failed to execute well.
The result is that you end up getting behind Sam Rockwell‘s character Watson Bryant, who despite Richard screwing up every opportunity to reddem himself, stands by him and refuses to give up. Even Richard’s mother Bobi played by Kathy Bates has more umph about her.
The best performances in Richard Jewell are not from its name sake, but from the supporting cast of Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm and Kathy Bates.
Richard Jewell is a frustrating watch. Aside from the lacklustre lead, it’s hindered by the fact it’s a true story. We know as much at the end of the movie as we did at the start.
Ruthless On Film saw a premier of this movie before its general release back in January, but felt it wasn’t a movie that we could get behind, hence the delayed review.
By Ruth Walker