The Richard Jewell story is a really meaty, important story about overzealous law enforcement, government overreach, and journalistic f*ckery, and it’s a story that I’ve actually wanted to see on the big screen for a very long time. During the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Richard Jewell — who was working as a security guard — discovered a backpack full of pipe bombs, notified the cops and evacuated the area, and in doing so, Jewell saved a lot of lives. Then the FBI tried to pin the bombing on Jewell, the media ran with the story, late-night jumped all over Jewell, and within a few days, the dude’s life was ruined.
Even today, over 20 years later, when people hear the name Richard Jewell, they probably have to recheck Wikipedia again to remind themselves whether Jewell was actually responsible for the bombing, which killed 1 person and injured 111 others. In fact, everyone knows the name Richard Jewell, but how many people actually know the name of the domestic terrorist with an anti-abortion, anti-gay agenda that was responsible for the bombing (as well as the bombing of several abortion clinics)? (His name is Eric Rudolph.)
Like I said, it’s a good story, and they could not have found a better actor than Paul Walter Hauser to play the role of Richard Jewell.
On the other hand, is this really the right time to release a movie about an aggrieved white guy who became a victim of fake news and the FBI during the Clinton years? And is Clint Eastwood really the guy we want telling the story? It’s like the Joker all over again: Maybe that’s a decent story to tell in a different political climate and by a different director. But here we are in 2019, making movies about incels and white guys framed by the media. By Christmas, Richard Jewell is gonna be a rallying cry for every goddamn Trump Republican in America. It’s going to be exhausting.
But hey! At least Sam Rockwell is not playing a racist this time.
Richard Jewell opens on December 13th, just in time for your holiday dinners with your conservative family members.
Header Image Source: Warner Brothers