Richard Jewell has a compelling story and fine performances, but the script doesn’t stand up.
The film is the journey security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) is forced to travel when he saves lives from an exploding bomb at he 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Jewell who appears to be overly precise in his enforcement of rules has hopes of becoming a full fledge law enforcement officer. He knows the rules down to the letter and has an emotional dedication to doing the right thing. At times he appears to be somewhat limited rather than thoughtful about his work. When he discovers the bomb at the park where celebration of the Olympics is being held. He immediately warns folks to move and enlists other officers to help move the crown to safety.
For a short time he is a hero.
But according to the script Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm) the FBI representative responsible for security at the event is influenced by Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) a reporter who draws information from him, that Jewell is a suspect in the bombings.
Jewell is a single man who lives with his mother, effectively played Kathy Bates, he has made it clear that he has reverence for police enforcement and wants to be a policeman. His admiration for law enforcement leads him to break the cardinal rule that his lawyer, Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell) has set down for him. The rule is “don’t say anything unless your attorney is with you.” That leads Jewell further down the path of suspension, he just won’t shut up.
The emotion of the story is most effective as the public, press and FBI press on Jewell chrush what is his innocent attitude and takes a significant toll on his mother who he lives with. The FBI confiscates boxes of items from the Jewell home including his mother’s tupper wear.
The influence of an ambitious reporter reminds of the Paul Newman film Absence of Malice in which Sally Field (the reporter) causes a young women to commit suicide when she becomes part of a story. Or on the lighter side; War Games in which teenager, Matthew Broderick is suspected of being a Russian spy because he finds a method to break into the United States national defense system. Like Jewell he is look at as a loner, over achiever and intelligent in his field.
The story is strong but Clint Eastwood’s direction and Billy Ray’s screen play lacks excitement and moves too slowly. He even takes too long showing Jewell eating a sandwich.