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‘Richard Jewell’ Movie Review

3 min read

Movie Information:

Release Date: December 13th, 2019

MPA Rating: R (for language including some sexual references, and brief bloody images)

Runtime: 2 hr 09 min

Directed By: Clint Eastwood

Written By: Billy Ray

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde, and Paul Walter Hauser


Based upon the book The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle, which was written by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen, Richard Jewell recounts the life of Richard Jewell during and after the terrorist attack on the 1996 Summer Olympics. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film is a historical narrative about the experiences of not only Richard Jewell, but also others connected to the case such as FBI agents, a reporter, the defendant’s lawyer, and Jewell’s mother. 

The movie begins with Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) working as an office supplies distributor for a law firm. While there he befriends one of the lawyers, Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell). Soon, Jewell leaves to fill the role as a security guard at a local college. After 10 years, he is fired from that position and obtains a position as a security guard for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Jewell believes in being thorough with his job, and while being assigned to Centennial Park, he remains alert for anything that seems suspicious. After addressing teenagers causing a disturbance, Jewell discovers a backpack that has been left at the base of the NBC broadcast tower. He alerts the local authorities who at first do not take him seriously, but soon change their tune after examining the bag and finding multiple pipe bombs inside. While attempting to move the crowd away from the area, the device detonates and kills two people while injuring over a hundred. 

Immediately after the tragedy, Jewell is hailed as a hero, but soon becomes the prime suspect. An FBI agent, Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm), who was assigned to Centennial Park at the same time as Jewell, leaks to a local reporter, Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), that Jewell is under investigation for the crime. On the very next day, Richard Jewell’s name is plastered all over the national and local news as the prime suspect in the bombing. 

Jewell calls on his old friend, Bryant, to be his defense lawyer. For the rest of the movie, we watch as Bryant works with Richard and his mother, Bobi Jewell (Kathy Bates), to prove his innocence.


Before watching Richard Jewell, I did not know who he was. I do remember the bombing of the 1996 Summer Olympics, but paid no attention to the aftermath. After watching the movie, I sought more information about the event and Richard Jewell.

I have read reviews that accused Clint Eastwood of trying to push an agenda, but from what I have read, the movie is quite accurate. Not only this, but more importantly, it sheds light on two horrendous events. The first being the attack itself, and the second, being the public trial without representation of Richard Jewell. The media had basically convicted him of the crime without any evidence being reviewed. This made me, the viewer, sympathetic to Jewell, and even more so, to his mother who felt helpless throughout the ordeal, and unable to protect her son.

As a movie goer who loves movies with excellent storylines that pull on the audience’s emotions, this film was a joy to watch. It drew me in to the drama that unfolded, and made me angry, sad, and happy at various times. The acting was strong, and the story was pulled together in an effective and smooth manner. For these reasons, Richard Jewell is another hit in my book.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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