Starring: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates
Director: Clint Eastwood
Running Time: 129 mins
Richard Jewell is an American film about the true story of a security guard who heroically saved lives when he noticed a suspicious package at the 1996 Olympics, but soon came to be hounded by the press and the law when he became the focal point of the ensuing terrorist investigation.
A traditional biopic through and through, Richard Jewell offers up engrossing true-life drama interspersed with captivating and arresting emotional depth. Bolstered by a passionate account of the extents of government and media power, the film makes for a fascinating and even thought-provoking watch.
Now, modern Hollywood is a place where unique, progressive and genre-breaking film is becoming and more and more commonplace. And for the variety and diversity of cinema, that’s a great thing, but if you’re still looking for solid, traditional filmmaking, director Clint Eastwood stands as one of the strongest voices in the style.
Combined with his regular employment of themes of all-American heroism and courage, Richard Jewell is the perfect embodiment of what makes a great Clint Eastwood film: straight to the point, passionate and consistently engrossing with no frills.
In that, this film makes for an enthralling watch for viewers of all persuasions, from history buffs to fans of legal drama, from those with a fascination for politics to those wanting a memorable and powerful story.
As it follows the ups and downs of all-American hero Richard Jewell, caught in a media frenzy following a terrorist attack, the film passionately offers up a damning account of the often overarching powers of both government and the media, turning little more than a piece of protocol into the most sensational of stories.
And with that, alongside its almost heartwarming and entirely endearing presentation of the best of the everyday American, this film almost seems to go beyond what we normally expect from Clint Eastwood, with impressive and fair criticism of the US state, all the while retaining a passionate and energetic sense of patriotism and national pride.
It’s a very difficult tightrope to walk, with the potential of falling into a sphere of either jingoism or all-out attack on the government, but Richard Jewell is a film that finds that middleground perfectly. As such, it allows its passion to come through to the full, all the while remaining fair, level-headed and entirely captivating.
And finally, along with the excellent story and strong direction, the cast here is absolutely brilliant. In the lead role, Paul Walter Hauser goes beyond his standout supporting performance in I, Tonya, with immense likability and determination alongside his salt-of-the-earth, humble charisma.
Couple that with striking supporting turns from Sam Rockwell and Kathy Bates, as well as memorable appearances from Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde, and this film is full of talent and energy wherever you look, all adding to the depth and emotion in the story at play.
Overall, I loved Richard Jewell. It’s an enthralling true-life biopic that offers up both heartwarming and sobering drama, featuring level-headed and fair criticism of the US alongside strong, traditional patriotism. Clint Eastwood’s direction is excellent, delivering a classic biopic like few others do today, while the ensemble cast is fantastic across the board. So, that’s why I’m giving Richard Jewell an 8.0.