Richard Jewell

Media Damned


13 December 2019| No Comments on Richard Jewell     by Sean Chavel


Security guard Jewell, starring non-star Paul Walter Hauser as the portly and cherubic momma’s boy, had prevented potential dozens of deaths from a pipe bomb going off in their direction in Atlanta at the 1996 Olympics. Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell is under heavy enough scrutiny for its agenda politics of slamming left wing media to such a degree it would have been easier had I not liked it so I could just dismiss it. Finding a way to cast concerns aside, I found I was able to remove any POV of right wing / left wing tribalism inherent and simply saw what happened in it as a case of human folly.

Olivia Wilde is a ruthless vulture-like Atlantic Journal Constitution newspaper reporter based on real-life person Kathy Scruggs (but with many liberties taken? I don’t know, but I assume so) who nuzzles up to Jon Hamm as an FBI man to get a lead and spreads a wildfire of defamation, thus, Jewell goes from overnight hero to sudden suspect. A particular pride of authority demonstrated by Hamm’s men in the FBI kept them from doing their job appropriately, and the script persuades in just how blameworthy they were in their lazy and convenient willingness to turn Jewell into a patsy.

The bright spot of the movie is not being discussed enough. As the quid pro quo lawyer Watson Bryant who goes to bat for Jewell, particularly present at the right time to tell the FBI to back off to their faces, Sam Rockwell has the most lived-in performance of his career and I don’t say that lightly; he’s not a hifalutin lawyer who does any jacked-up shouting, he remains calm and collected as he remarks conscientious but practical arguments to the FBI agents’ faces, he speaks to the media in scorn of their mishandling of the Jewell story while remaining levelheaded. In 2019, the supporting actor performances I was blown away by were Brad Pitt in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and Al Pacino in “The Irishman,” but Rockwell with sound and brilliant but homespun way of speaking would be my third favorite, despite being as under-regarded as he’s been in reviews so far.

At the forefront, it would have never been enough for Jewell and his mother Bobi (Kathy Bates, who effectively does the Niagara Falls of Crying Acting in this movie) to walk down their apartment steps and explain to media cameras that they’re good people living quiet lives. Reporters less extreme yet still similar to Kathy Scruggs would have battered them with rapid-fire questions without allowing cogent answers to clear things up, with the news bias to spin any statement he would make to paint him guilty. Jewell needed a guy like Sam Rockwell to be the voice of reason; the smart friend that uses wit and recount of legal rights to swing the public court of opinion. I could question Eastwood’s motives with aggrandizement, but regardless, I am glad I sat with this movie.

129 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Paradise Lost: Child Murders at Robin Hood Hill” (1996); “True Crime” (1999); “Veronica Guerin” (2003); “When They See Us” (2019).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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