By James Davidson
“Richard Jewell” tells the true story of Atlanta security guard, Richard Jewell (played by Paul Walter Hauser). The soft-spoken, gung-ho law enforcement hopeful discovered a suspicious package that turned out to be a bomb while working security in Olympic Park in 1996. Jewell saved hundreds of lives before the device detonated, injured hundreds, and killed two spectators. Originally, the media presented Jewell as a hero, and rightfully so, for saving the lives of hundreds of people and discovering the device. Unfortunately, the media turned on Richard seemingly overnight when it was leaked that the FBI was investigating Richard as a suspect in planting the bomb.
The media quickly turned the easy-going, socially-awkward man into a villain and overturned the once quiet life he led with his mother on its head. In hopes of saving himself, Richard hires a lawyer that he worked for years before, Watson Bryant (played by Sam Rockwell). Together, the overenthusiastic security guard and the downtrodden, slightly unconventional lawyer attempt to fight the national media and the federal government to clear Richard’s name.
I am much too young to remember the details of the ‘96 Atlanta bombing. I vaguely remember the Olympics being in Atlanta at all; though, I vaguely remember seeing the Olympic torch pass through my hometown. I also somewhat remember hearing about a bomb going off, but I definitely don’t remember any of the media coverage on the event. So I was very interested in seeing this movie and learning more about the event that happened so close to my home. The previews made it look very interesting.
Paul Walter Hauser, who also played in “I, Tonya” and “BlacKKKlansman” definitely takes the spotlight in this interesting biopicture. Hauser did a very good job portraying Richard Jewell and really conveying his rollercoaster of feelings as he went from being considered a national hero to an international villain overnight. The rest of the cast did an excellent job at portraying their characters as well. Particularly, Sam Rockwell and Kathy Bates (who played Richards mother, Bobi), also did a great job showing the great range of emotions that I’m sure the real life characters actually went through. But the cast was definitely lead by Hauser’s emotionally-charged performance.
This biopic shows how much power the national media has and the dangers of having so much influence over the world. For example, Jewell always wanted to be in law enforcement “to help people”. Other than being a bit overzealous in the few opportunities given to him, he genuinely wanted to help other people and be “one of the good guys”. The media quickly takes that overzealousness and turns it against him. The film really shows how dangerous the court of public opinion can be and what happens when the people that lead that court abuse their power.
While I thought that for the most part, the film was very well-written, with great acting and a solid plot, the movie did get a little slow in places. The pacing was somewhat off and felt redundant in places. There were several scenes that seemed to try to establish something that I thought was already well-established earlier in the movie. This didn’t take away from the experience however, I still really enjoyed this movie.
“Richard Jewell” is rated R for language, including some sexual references and brief bloody images. Other than the language, there isn’t much that is offensive in this movie at all. However, the language and sexual references will keep this from being a movie that the entire family can enjoy. This would be a great movie to go to as a couple or with a few friends. Or, honestly, you can enjoy it by yourself. I really enjoyed learning more about this event, and I’m sure if you remember the original media frenzy, you might enjoy it even more.
This film is a very interesting, captivating biopic that has some top-notch acting and solid writing. It has a valuable message to be careful about letting your opinion be swayed by anything you hear without proof. Although it can get a little slow and redundant in places, it’s still definitely worth going to see. I will be seeing this movie again and will suggest it to anybody that wants to see a good movie based on a true story. It earns 4 out of 5 stars.