On July 27th, 1996, a homemade bomb exploded at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, the host city for the 1996 Olympic Games. Two people died and 100 were hurt in the attack. The attack was carried out by an anti-abortion militant named Eric Rudolph, although he was arrested years later.
His name only appears at the end of the film. The film is based on a Vanity Fair article, it isn’t about the bomber but about the hero who found a suspicious backpack under a bench and sounded the alarm. We first meet Jewell about 10 years before the bombing, in a local office of the SBA, where he’s pushing carts and that’s where he meets Watson Bryant, a lawyer who will become his champion in 10 years. Jewell is a really decent and nice guy, he is polite and takes care of his mother and he is a very southern man which is nothing wrong to be.
There might be something very peculiar about him; he is overweight, lives with his mother which is nothing wrong to be ashamed of, he owns a lot of weapons and takes things a little too seriously. He treats members of the Atlanta P.D and the FBI as his professional peers and seems very blind to their condescension.”I’m law enforcement too” he says with a kind of earnest that seems very pathetic. Eastwood, takes the time to get to know him and tell us how he was and respect him, and to show how his honesty and decency can be exploited by people with an agenda and by the vultures who descend on him when it should be his moment.
The main baddies, if you can call them that are Tom Shaw and Kathy Scruggs, a reporter for the AJC who seem to have it out for Jewells as painting him to be something that he isn’t and it’s her reporting that sets out to destroy Jewells and his way of life.
The film is very clean cut, everything moves in a straight line towards its conclusion: there isn’t any twists or turns or excitement, just a straight line towards the finish line and there’s nothing wrong with that and it’s very typical Clint Eastwood film in that sense of fashion. The story moves in a straight line, picking up momentum and suspense; it doesn’t feel too much or complicated or unnecessarily long, it begins and ends where it needs to end.
Richard Jewell is Clint Eastwood’s more political films but it doesn’t shove politics down your throat and it isn’t very obvious that it is either but it definitely isn’t about our current ideological agitations; Richard Jewell is a morality tale and a tale about how the media can distort certain people’s lives and paint them in a certain way. He was bullied and it wasn’t fair.
In the end, the film is definitely worth a watch and I recommend it. The political implications are interesting to contempt as it shows something that is still happening today in America but the theme and the moral is right on the money. Go see this film, you won’t be disappointed.