Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort Richard Jewell is based on the true story of a man who was hailed a hero, only to become suspected of a crime nearly overnight. Based on a 1997 Vanity Fair story by Marie Brenner, Eastwood had been working for years to bring the story of Richard Jewell to the big screen for years. Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya) stars as Jewell, the soft-spoken security guard thrust into the national spotlight when he discovers a backpack containing explosives at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 summer games. While the devices eventually explode, Jewell is able to herd countless people away from the area. One person died, but Richard’s actions undoubtedly saved many lives.
Initially, Richard is hailed as a hero, delighting his proud mother Bobi (Kathy Bates). Before long, an FBI team led by Tom Shaw (John Hamm) decides Richard is the prime suspect. An ambitious reporter named Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) gets this information and runs with it. Within days, Jewell is guilty in the court of public opinion. Brought in by the FBI for questioning, Richard calls the only attorney he knows, fiery Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell). Together, the two fight a government body and a hungry media all too eager to falsely convict an innocent man in a bid to serve their own purposes.
Richard Jewell takes liberties with a few of the historical facts and at 129 minutes, the narrative isn’t as tight as some of Clint Eastwood’s best films. However, the primary performances are first rate. Paul Walter Hauser conveys Richard’s basic goodness. He may not be the brightest guy in the world, but he genuinely wants to do the right thing. His soft-spoken line delivery fits with the sense of awkwardness he exudes. Sam Rockwell and Kathy Bates are both great. Bates nabbed an Oscar nomination for her work as Richard’s mother, distraught over what’s happening to her only child, but strong as an ox when she needs to be.
John Hamm and Olivia Wilde portray their characters as well as their written, cartoonish villains. Scruggs in particular, is portrayed as a horrible person who lies all the time, fights with her co-workers, and trades sex for a story. The real Kathy Scruggs died in 2001, but her co-workers say that while she swore and wore short skirts, she never traded sex for information.
A box office failure, many blamed the controversy over the portrayal of Kathy Scruggs for the film’s poor reception. Now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, take the chance to evaluate Richard Jewell yourself.
Richard Jewell was an all-digital production, captured at 3.4K resolution with Arri Alexa Mini and XT cameras by Yyves Bélanger and completed as a 4K digital intermediate in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The 1080p transfer is excellent. Colors appear natural and full, without being oversaturated. Detail is excellent, with well defined facial features and fabric textures. Contrast is spot on, with deep blacks and strong whites.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is excellent, providing clean, clear and concise dialogue throughout. The surrounds are active, revealing everything from crowd noise, to music, to discreet flashbulbs. LFE adds some heft to the Centennial Park explosion and the bass heavy concert sequence.
English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese and French subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- The Making of Richard Jewell (HD, 6:58) A brief overview of the making of the film.
- The Real Story of Richard Jewell (HD, 6:39) More typical EPK material; focusing on the real Bobi Jewell, Watson Bryant and their relationship with the late Richard Jewell.
- Digital Copy
Richard Jewell (2019)
Movie title: Richard Jewell
Duration: 131 min
Director(s): Clint Eastwood
Actor(s): Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell , Kathy Bates , Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde, Nina Arianda