Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde
Runtime: 131 minutes
Rating: R (for language including some sexual references, and brief bloody images)
I feel like Clint Eastwood churns out hit after hit. He was THE MAN in his western films and especially in the Sergio Leone “spaghetti-westerns.” He honestly may be better as a director. For this week’s review we look at a real-life event. The 1996 bombing at the Olympics Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Last year I got to visit Atlanta last year and walked through Centennial Park (Where the bombing took place.) It was a great vacation; it was also a TERRIBLE vacation. (NO Ferris Wheel) Atlanta was beautiful and I loved all the history and the city. This film highlights the “hero” of the bombing – Richard Jewell. On a side-note Jaid Baker from Portsmouth Cinema was a big help! She wanted to say, “She loves working there and it’s one of her favorite places to be.” Thanks, Jaid!
Onto the film.
We open with Richard Jewell (Hauser) he’s a pencil pusher and delivers supplies at a law firm. He immediately meets Watson Bryant (Rockwell) who you can tell he admires and looks up to. Jewell believes he has a future in law enforcement and he “believes in protecting people.” As the new friends connect at an arcade. Bryant and Jewell (who Bryant nicknames Radar) talk and Jewell promises Bryant to not become a bad person. That power can turn a man.
We cut to years later. Jewell is working at Piedmont College and he’s over-zealous to say the
least. He’s asked to resign after giving students tickets on the highway (He didn’t have jurisdiction.) He respects law enforcement and when he’s given an inch, he takes a mile. You feel for the character. His best friend is his Mom and he lives with her. You see a lack of confidence which could play a part into wanting to become a hero.
We then meet our next two pieces in this story. FBI Agent Tom Shaw (Hamm) and a journalist for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution named Kathy Scruggs (Wilde) they will come into play much later. We learn that Jewell has gotten a job working security for the Olympic Games in Centennial Park. The premise is simple yet incredible considering it’s true. Jewell spots a package and gets help thinking it’s a bomb. It is. An interesting tidbit I just found out this morning is that Portsmouth’s unit of the National Guard was actually deployed there to help with security. Shout out to Tim Wolfe for that information.
This is where the tension begins to build, and you start to question everyone’s motives. Besides Jewell’s mother Bobi (Kathy Bates is GREAT) This isn’t a HUGE spoiler; Eastwood shows the audience that someone else makes the call about the bomb. I assumed that I wouldn’t suspect Jewell, but honestly, at times I did.
What this movies touches on is being a “false hero.” We meet a man who so badly wants to be important. Did he plant a bomb to accomplish that? I didn’t know the story, but after the film, I went back and watched old news clips. You’ll have that with this film. It wraps you in the story and seeing at what extremes the FBI, the Media, and even Jewell himself go through the 88 days of investigation. You want to learn more.
I enjoyed the cast as a whole and the lead Paul Walter Hauser was perfect. Watching news clips of the real man, you couldn’t tell them apart. I did have a few complaints though. It was an interesting story! It was, but I found the pace lacked at times. I also found the humor added felt forced. The story flowed, and the dialogue flowed but it got choppy at times. Small complaint but it’s there. This film also clocks in at over 2 hours so take a nap beforehand. We have some films that fly by regardless of length, this isn’t one of them. Slow BUT steady. If
you’re a fan of Clint Eastwood (the actor or director) give it a shot. Also, as I’m sure many of my readers can remember the events firsthand. I encourage you to see it as well. Next week, we will be reviewing probably the biggest film of the year: STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. 3 stars out of 5 #SHOPLOCAL
Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-981-9158