The Reel Review


Director Clint Eastwood takes aim at the FBI and the mass media in the story of the security guard at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics who, after heroically saving thousands of lives from an exploding bomb at Centennial Olympic Park, was vilified by the news media after federal authorities leaked that he was a “person of interest” in the bombing.

After the disastrous The 15:17 to Paris, Clint Eastwood is back on his directing A game, with a film more in line with his classics Million Dollar Baby and Letters From Iwo Jima. Richard Jewell is a compelling, fact-based drama that serves as a grim reminder of just how fragile our civil liberties truly are when faced with the dangerous combination of federal agents with a personal agenda and a pack-minded news media.

In the role of a lifetime, Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya, BlacKkKlansman) injects into his portrait of Jewell a level of naivety and earnestness that elicits both heartbreak and frustration. Kathy Bates is exceptional as his mother Bobi, as are Sam Rockwell as his attorney and Nina Arianda (Goliath, Stan & Ollie) as his perceptive legal assistant, Nadya. Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde play the villains – the shady federal agent who sets up Jewell as the scapegoat and the cutthroat newspaper reporter who breaks the story. Highlighted by an emotionally stirring score from Arturo Sandoval (The Mule), Richard Jewell is a compelling film – old fashioned storytelling at its finest.


• Prior to his death due to heart disease in 2007, Richard Jewell won a number of legal settlements against NBC News, CNN, The New York Post and Piedmont College.

• The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has lashed out at the film’s portrait of the late Kathy Scruggs as a reporter who traded sex for stories, which it says is false.

• Filming of the concerts and bombing scenes took place at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, the site of the 1996 bombing.


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