Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…ultra-watchable, engrossing, naturalistic, tautly directed and superbly acted – especially by Hauser and Rockwell – and scripted.
This is a true story, and one virtually guaranteed to make the viewer’s metaphorical blood boil on behalf of its unfortunate protagonist. Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) is an office worker turned campus guard who ends up working in security at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He spots the bag containing the bomb which will shortly explode in Centennial Park, and his eagle-eyed efficiency saves a great many lives when it does. Jewell becomes a household name, and – very briefly – a national hero.
But everything goes pear-shaped for him when the FBI decides that he is actually a “false hero” – and the prime suspect as the terrorist behind the bombing! Despite his highly unethical treatment at their hands, Jewell remains steadfast in his high regard for law enforcement. What follows is essentially a study of the massive and intolerable pressure sustained by him – and by his mother Bobi (Kathy Bates) – at the hands of both the Feds and the media, as his lawyer Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell) struggles to clear his name. Bryant is not exaggerating when he describes their lives as “a living hell”.
Richard Jewell is ultra-watchable, engrossing, naturalistic, tautly directed and superbly acted – especially by Hauser and Rockwell – and scripted. Despite its gripping seriousness it’s also, sporadically, pretty funny. All of which is more than enough to make it highly recommended. And, in addition to all those strengths, it’s terrific because of what it ISN’T. There are no cheap homilies here, no ‘redemptive’ messages and no cop-out endorsement of the American justice system. It’s a real gem.