Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Richard Jewell, 2019 - ★★★★

Clint Eastwood is still chugging along as a top-list director at age 88. His latest true-story effort is a retelling of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing and the subsequent aftermath. I remembered a lot of these events as I was and am a huge Olympics fan but what this movie does really well is showcase the media/FBI involvement in wrongfully accusing an innocent man.

Sam Rockwell plays Jewell's attorney Watson Bryant and delivers another excellent performance while Kathy Bates shines and earns her Golden Globe nomination as Jewell's concerned mother. Both of the actors I just mentioned are Academy Award winners and proven commodities, the real bright spot of this film lies in character actor Paul Walter Hauser who absolutely nails the title role of Richard Jewell and gives him a level of complexity that I really wasn't expecting going into this. We're able to see Jewell as an aspiring law enforcement officer and as a fish-out-of-water when he's suspected to have planted the fateful bomb in Centennial Park. In a crowded Oscar race, I'd almost want to save a spot for Hauser in the Best Actor category although I know that won't happen. He was simply the right actor choice for this role and delivers way beyond what he's done in other films like I Tonya and BlacKkKlansman.

The acting is great here (John Hamm and Olivia Wilde are solid as well), the story is solid but it does drag along in places. Similar to his work with Sully, Eastwood is able to spin some depth and character development into another from-the-headlines story. Hauser will never be better in a film and it's worth buying a ticket just to watch him embody Richard Jewell.