“RICHARD JEWELL” – 7.5
In a word: Awakening
This is a Clint Eastwood film, who at the age of 89, is one of the great wonders of the world, delving into the depths of the actual story then making it come alive in film. This was a good movie, but not one of his best. That’s saying a lot, because most of his films have been first class.
Fans going to see this film must first know that it is intended to be a docudrama, based on a true story that focuses around an overweight frumpy security guard who was a police-wannabe, working for a company which assigned him a guard role at the 1996 Olympics in Atanta where – amid the throes of thousands of citizens – he (Jewell) discovers a suspicious backpack under a bench in Centennial Park. His frenetic actions warning everyone in the area, caught the attention of police and other security personnel, though his allegations about a package with a bomb inside was doubted by many. Shortly after he began screaming at people to get back, “Get Back,” sure enough a bomb exploded. Two died, scores were injured. There would have been more victims if not for Jewell’s actions.
Without revealing the most important aspects of the investigation, suffice to say that the law enforcement community, headed by FBI, focused entirely on Richard Jewell as the prime suspect, to the exclusion of anyone else. With all the interrogations and searches and humiliation, it changed his life forever.
Besides what happened to Jewell, a strong message in the film depicts how investigations should not be conducted and how media, in the hunt for the big story, can get it wrong. When authorities form a narrow focus on one individual based on unsupported circumstances that prove nothing, and refuse to expand the probe elsewhere, they are violating the rules of evidence and recklessly stomping on the rights of individuals. This reminds me of the Bill Dillon and Wilton Dedge cases in the early 1980s in Florida that stripped innocent men of their freedom for decades by concocting false evidence for no other reason than “winning.”
Paul Howser deftly plays the key role of Richard Jewell, while veteran actor, Sam Rockwell plays an Oscar-worthy performance as Jewell’s lawyer. What I liked the least about the movie, were a number of scenes and dialogue that seemed amateurish, departing from reality in depicting police conduct and procedures. As a former career cop, those scenes felt like the proverbial “fingernails on the blackboard.” For that, we’d have to call out the writers, and I suppose, the director.
Regardless, it’s a movie worth seeing and a story worth knowing about. In real life, this was about selecting a target, then contriving evidence to support an untruth. This, according to the film, was clearly the fault of the prime FBI investigator and a story-thirsty reporter.
I give this a 7.5 out of 10.
Richard Jewell (2019) – IMDb
“RICHARD JEWELL” – 7.5