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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY WARNER BROS.Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell), “Richard Jewell” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY WARNER BROS.Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell), “Richard Jewell”

Movie Review: Eastwood’s real ‘Jewell’

Friday, January 3, 2020 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Richard Jewell’ is another brilliant film from director Clint Eastwood.

The film is based on the true story about security guard Richard Jewell, who became a “person of interest,” but was never charged in the bombing of Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. The explosion is said to have killed two persons (one from a heart attack) and injured 111.

Jewell discovered the bomb before it detonated and with other officials cleared most of the spectators out of the park, saving the lives of thousands.

It was the first of four bombings by Eric Rudolph, who was arrested months later. At Olympic Park, Rudolph detonated three pipe bombs inside a United States military backpack.

Rudolph was identified as a suspect after three more bombings in 1997. Rudolph was arrested in 2003. Rudolph is serving life imprisonment without parole.

The screenplay for “Richard Jewell” was written by Billy Ray (Oscar nominee, “Captain Phillips,” 2013) based on a 1997 magazine article, “American Nightmare,” by Marie Brenner, and the book, “The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle” (2019), by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen.

That’s the back story for the film “Richard Jewell.”

While you may know the outcome of this domestic terrorism tragedy, the film is no less fascinatiing, engrossing and suspenseful in the masterful direction by Eastwood.

If you’re not familiar with the Oympic Park bombing, “Richard Jewell” is important to see for that reason alone.

“Richard Jewell” is worthy of consideration for several Oscar nominations, including: director, movie, adapted screenplay, actor (Paul Walter Hauser as Richard Jewell), supporting actor (Sam Rockwell as Jewell’s attorney Watson Bryant) and supporting actress (Kathy Bates as Jewell’s mother).

The cinematography (Director of Photography Yves Bélanger, “The Mule,” 2018; “Brooklyn,” 2015; “Dallas Buyers Club,” 2013) is superb, in-your-face and documentary-style.

The editing (Joel Cox, who has edited Eastwood-directed films; Oscar editing recipient, “Unforgiven,” 1992) is top-notch, with excellent, sometimes startling and frequently dialogue-intimate sequences.

The soundtrack (Arturo Sandoval) is emotionally supportive in the manner of scores that Eastwood himself has composed and performed in previous films he’s directed.

The storyline in “Richard Jewell’ concentrates on the FBI probe led by Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm, playing a fictitious character) and the media coverage, led by Atlanta Consitution reporter Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), Atty. Bryant defending Jewell, Jewell and his mother, and Jewell’s transformation as he deals with his characterization from hero to villain.

The screenplay has lots of key character development details and bonds between the characters: Snickers candybars that are a favorite of Atty. Bryant and which Jewell provides for him; the gung-ho law enforcement attitude and criminal justice knowledge expressed by Jewell, and the concern displayed by Jewell’s mother for her son.

The film’s authentically takes the movie-goer back to the mid-1990s (clothing, cell phones, computers, furniture, cars) in the Production Design by Kevin Ishioka, Art Direction by Chris Craine, Set Decoration by Ronald R. Reiss and Costume Design by Deborah Hopper.

“Richard Jewell” is a thought-provoking examination of the world’s social-media obsessesd culture at the dawn of that culture, the mid-1990s. The role and responsibility of law enforcement and the media, the topics of power dynamics, bullying and fat-shaming are a few of the film’s important themes.

In the film, Jewell is almost duped into making a training film about investigating a bombing suspect. “Richard Jewell” could be screened as a training film in law enforcement and journalism classrooms and seminars.

“Richard Jewell” joins 40 other films directed by Eastwood (Oscar director, picture recipient, “Million Dollar Baby,” 2004; Oscar director, picture recipient, “Unforgiven,” 1992; Oscar picture nominee, “American Sniper,” 2014; Oscar director, picture nominee, “Letters From Iwo Jima,” 2006; Oscar director, picture nominee, “Mystic River,” 2003), including his sometimes overlooked and wrongly critically-maligned recent films, “The Mule,” 2018, and “Gran Torino,” 2008.

If you’re a fan of director Clint Eastwood (he doesn’t appear onscreen in “Richard Jewell”), don’t miss “Richard Jewell.” It’s one of Eastwood’s best.

“Richard Jewell,” MPAA rated R (Restricted Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.) for language including some sexual references, and brief bloody images; Genre: Biography, Drama; Run time: 2 hr., 11 min. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: “Richard Jewell” was filmed on location in Atlanta, Ga., including Centennial Olympic Park.

Box Office: Dec. 28 weekend box office results were unavailable because of the early Focus deadline for the New Year’s Day holiday.

Unreel, Jan. 3:

“The Grudge,” R: Nicolas Pesce directs Betty Gilpin, Andrea Riseborough, William Sadler and John Cho in the Horror Mystery. A ghost haunts a house and dooms all who enter it.

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes