Luke McWilliams gives his verdict on American biographical drama film, Richard Jewell, directed and produced by Clint Eastwood.
In 1996, wannabe policeman Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) works as a security guard at Centennial Park during the Olympic Games. Jewell successfully clears an area right before a backpack bomb explodes, leading to the city heralding him as a hero, before the FBI start thinking otherwise …
Like Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg’s efforts in Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day, director Clint Eastwood has madea concerted effort to celebrate national heroes in his last few films; everyday Americans who step up when the need arises. Sully explored the exploits of a pilot who saved all on board his flight; The 15:17 to Paris actually starred the real-life people who foiled a terrorist attempt; and The Mule told the real-life story of a WWII veteran who became a drug courier.
While Jewell similarly shares these main protagonists’ want of being a hero for their country, the movie shares more with Sully: after a heroic deed, having to front an investigation probing for any fault or, in Jewell’s case, actual cause. The strength of the movie calls into question Jewell’s motives for wanting to be considered a hero and his unwavering respect to authority. It is all the stronger for the great performances from the ensemble cast including a dogged FBI agent (Jon Hamm), anti-authoritarian defence lawyer (Sam Rockwell), and proud mother (Kathy Bates).
Verdict: An uncomfortable exploration of the want to be considered a hero, under a sobering critical eye as to the motive.
Richard Jewell – 4 stars