Eastwood delivers a biopic that distinguishes heroes from villains.
Clint Eastwood’s latest opus, “Richard Jewell,” is based on the true story on the AT&T security guard saved people after a bomb went off during the 1996 Summer Olympics. Despite his heroic deeds, he was accused of being implicated with the attacks. We know for a fact he’s innocent, but we still would like to see how Eastwood presents the real-life events.
Paul Walter Hauser proves himself to be an exceptional actor (on the heels of “I,Tonya” and “BlacKkKlansmann”) as Richard Jewell, a bumbling young man in Atlanta, who dreams of nothing more than to be a cop, an FBI agent, or any kind of law enforcement officer committed to keeping America safe. During a concert in Centennial Park, he notices a suspicious backpack under a bench, and it’s a bomb.
He manages to get the other authorities to get most of the fans out of the way just before the bomb detonates, and he’s labeled a hero.
However, based on his past job as a college security guard, he was so overly committed to the law, that he went into dorm rooms without warrants, and pulled over people on the highway, outside his jurisdiction. The point is he’s also accused of being involved with the attack.
The all-star cast also features Sam Rockwell as Jewell’s former boss, Watson Bryant, who calls him “Radar” like on M.A.S.H.,” and becomes his lawyer; Olivia Wilde as a journalist desperate to have a story; Jon Hamm as an FBI agent, who has a fling with the ambitious reporter, while investigating the hero; and Kathy Bates as Jewell’s loving mother.
At times, Bryant attacks Jewell because of how he sucks up to the law, and how some of his precious stupid mistakes pushed the accusations further. He just wants to help clear his name.
“Richard Jewell” is, so far, Eastwood’s best work since “Sully,” because of how he provides the evidence of the hero’s innocence, despite some major setbacks. He guides Hauser, Rockwell, and Bates on the emotional path of threats, accusations, fears, and loyalty. And their bold dialogue (Bryant says to Jewell: “You don’t talk; I do”) distinguishes them as courageous and scarred people.
It also represents how sometimes the media jumps to conclusions, resulting in wrongful finger pointing. This guy is a hero, and they threatened to make him a villain. That is wrong, and Bates’ heartbreaking speech reminds us of that notion.
It doesn’t really show us Jewell’s days on the force and in the army, but it’s more concerned about his bravery and commitment to his country. Give up to Eastwood for sharing us his love for America and it’s heroes.