By Marc Woodfork
Legendary actor and director Clint Eastwood brings the true story of security guard Richard Jewell, who found himself as the prime suspect of the 1996 Atlanta bombing in Centennial Park. Eastwood has always been a solid storyteller since he first began directing, and this film is just as solid as his other endeavors. A superb script with great actors at the top of their game. The lead character Richard Jewell is played by actor Paul Walter Hauser. His performance is certainly amongst the best of the year. He completely embodied the real Richard Jewell. All of the subtle nuances and southern charm that Richard had, Paul zeroes in on that perfectly.
He is supported by a great cast. Sam Rockwell as his friend and lawyer. Jon Hamm at his usual best as the lead FBI agent investigating the incident. Olivia Wilde turns in a solid performance as the reporter who first breaks the news of Richard being the prime suspect. Kathy Bates delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as Richard’s mother. This film should be seen if nothing else than to illustrate just how easy it is for someone to be tried and convicted in the court of public opinion regardless if all the facts have been presented. Richard Jewell was railroaded based on a ridiculous FBI profile formula. That, coupled with media crucifixion, almost sealed his fate.
The film is compelling and thoughtful. For those who remember the incident, a lot of information is revealed that we didn’t know about at the time. “Richard Jewell” makes its mark because years after the event, it still asks the question, have we learned from past mistakes? Are we all innocent until proven guilty? Or in today’s society, are we guilty and have to prove our innocence.