Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort “Richard Jewell” is a well told story regarding the title character, and his actions during the Centennial Park bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but the film’s real life controversy does indeed cast a shadow on the work of this excellent cast.
Paul Walter Hauser plays Jewell, a simple man that lives with his mom (Kathy Bates) that wants to be a law enforcement officer. When he discovers the bomb and is first credited as a hero following the bombing, it’s not long before the FBI decides to investigate him and his life is thrown for a spin.
It’s hard to make a bad film when in addition to Bates, you’ve got Jon Hamm and Sam Rockwell both in top form playing an FBI agent and Jewell’s lawyer respectively. Eastwood does capture the world of 1996 Atlanta effectively, and film flows well for a drama that doesn’t offer up a lot of intensity after the first 30 minutes.
The problem here is Oliva Wilde’s portrayal of Kathy Scruggs, the reporter who in the film sleeps with a source to break Jewell’s story, with no real life proof that such an encounter ever happened. Scruggs is one of the villains in this film, and for a movie that is leaning on real events to tell it’s story, its problematic. On a fundamental level the film is also about 20 minutes too long.
At the end of the day, “Richard Jewell” taken with a disclaimer that it dramatizes aspects of it’s storytelling is a good film, but with the importance of the event here and some of the real characters of this movie now deceased, history matters.
Running time: 2 hrs 12 minutes.