Richard Jewell

Critics Consensus

Richard Jewell simplifies the real-life events that inspired it -- yet still proves that Clint Eastwood remains a skilled filmmaker of admirable economy.

77%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 290

96%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 6,119

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Movie Info

During the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, security guard Richard Jewell discovers a suspicious backpack under a bench in Centennial Park. With little time to spare, he helps to evacuate the area until the incendiary device inside the bag explodes. Hailed as a hero who saved lives, Jewell's own life starts to unravel when the FBI names him the prime suspect in the bombing.

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Critic Reviews for Richard Jewell

All Critics (290) | Top Critics (64) | Fresh (223) | Rotten (67)

  • Where it falters - and badly - is in its portrayal of real-life reporter Kathy Scruggs. It leaves a bitter taste and mars the whole package, undermining its own good work elsewhere.

    February 28, 2020 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The story Eastwood is telling here is indeed a compelling one, a real-life drama recounting the abuse of power by the two most powerful institutions in America, the government and the press.

    February 20, 2020 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Eastwood's "shut up and point the camera" style of storytelling is bluntly effective and the film is powered along by three terrific performances.

    February 13, 2020 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • This is, frankly, a political film and it's no secret that Eastwood is not exactly on the left, but, ever the pragmatist, he leaves room for multiple readings.

    February 12, 2020 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • What should be an expose with nuanced performances has a very un-nuanced performance that overshadows the film...

    February 12, 2020 | Full Review…
  • It's not Eastwood's finest hour.

    February 3, 2020 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Richard Jewell

  • Oct 20, 2020
    From director Clint Eastwood comes the tragic, true story Richard Jewell. After security guard Richard Jewell discovers a bomb in Centennial Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics and helps save people from the explosion he's praised as a hero, but the FBI soon targets him as the bomber, despite having no evident, and destroys his life. Featuring Sam Rockwell, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde, Kathy Bates, and Paul Walter Hauser, the film has a strong cast that delivers some excellent (and award winning) performances. And Eastwood does an impressive job at heightening the tension and suspense as the FBI closes in on Jewell, entrapping him. Incredibly powerful, Richard Jewell is a cautionary tale of how easily an innocent man's life can be ruined by reckless and irresponsible journalists and law enforcement officers.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 26, 2020
    Although it's more than 120 minutes, it never* felt like a drag. Most probably because I didn't know already about the case. Excellent performances by all*. *exceptions may apply
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • Jan 07, 2020
    Whether you're looking at films like Gran Torino or American Sniper, you can call Clint Eastwood masterful even to this day, but you also have to look at his recent works in either Hereafter or The 15:17 to Paris. Although he still has a knack for directing at nearly 90 years of age, he's sort of hit-or-miss over these last 10 years. Richard Jewell is his latest directorial effort behind the camera and not only is it one of his best films in years, but it's also one of the better true stories I've seen in a while. Here's why I believe this film deserves to be seen.  During the 1996 Olympics, a bomb was planted in Centennial Park during a concert. Security guard Richard Jewell noticed it before it went off and ended up saving many lives. Due to coincidences in the story, Jewell was exploited as being the one who planted the bomb to make himself out as a hero. This film tells the truth about what went on and it's one of the more moving stories I've experienced this year. It's bad enough to be falsely accused of something you didn't do, but what this man had to endure was pure insanity.  Performed by Paul Walter Hauser in the titular role, I never once believed I was watching an actor portraying someone else. His performance is so authentic that it brought me to tears on multiple occasions. He absolutely deserves to be spoken about as one of the finest performers of 2019. On top of his incredible performance (which I hope to see much more of in the future), Kathy Bates portrays Bobi Jewell, Richard's mother, and although her character is slightly one-note throughout the course of the film, she brings a needed level of emotion and makes much more of this character than what seems to have been scripted.  Normally I don't praise a film for being slow in terms of pacing, but I believe the slow nature of this movie is actually what made me enjoy it more than I would have if it has been made in a more energetic way. The way Eastwood got calm performances out of the majority of this cast felt like a way of easing the audience into certain scenes. It doesn't hurt that performers like Jon Hamm and Sam Rockwell are in the supporting roles either. Richard Jewell is loaded with talent in front of and behind the camera, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that this story would work as well as it does.  In the end, Richard Jewell is a real triumph in terms of exposing the truth and what this man had to go through. From the screenplay by Billy Ray keeping it honest, yet light-hearted at times, to composer Arturo Sandoval delivering some very subtle pieces to make you feel a certain way, to the editing by veteran Joel Cox, who has been by Eastwood's side for a long time, everything about this film was well-done. It's very straight-forward, but that was clearly the intention, so it's not exactly a negative. Richard Jewell is a great film and one of my favourites of 2019.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Dec 22, 2019
    IT TAKES A VILLAIN - My Review of RICHARD JEWELL (3 1/2 Stars) Have you ever loved a movie you know deep in your gut has problematic elements? Did you appreciate the gorgeous cinematography of Triumph Of The Will even though it's a Nazi propaganda film? How can Birth Of A Nation simultaneously exist as something revolutionary and deeply racist? What's next? Well, welcome to Clint Eastwood's latest film, Richard Jewell, a compelling, empathetic look at a hero who morphed into a suspected villain after the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games bombing. Because of the current times we live in, and because we're all acutely aware of Eastwood's perceived conservatism, the film almost goes as far as a certain White House occupant in calling the Press, "the enemy of the people". Still, Eastwood and his very left leaning writer, Billy Ray (Captain Phillips), have crafted an impressive underdog story which just may make you think twice about the next heavyset rube you judge too quickly. The film stars Paul Walker Hauser, so memorable in I, Tonya, as a security guard who spots an unattended backpack in Centennial Park and attempts to clear the area. Although his actions minimized the fatalities and saved many lives, the FBI and the Press soon enough painted him as the culprit. He went from hero to zero overnight and one could argue his reputation never fully recovered. The first act provides us with Jewell's backstory as a law firm's mailroom clerk, presided over by Sam Rockwell's Watson Bryant. They strike up an unlikely friendship which will pay dividends at a later time. Jewell eventually moves on to become a put-upon campus security guard with aspirations to join the police force. He lives at home with his loving mother Bobi (a vivid, lived-in performance by Kathy Bates) and despite the jeers he gets from students, he has a fearless, confident, jump-right-in approach to everything he does. I appreciated this early section for not painting Jewell in angelic strokes. He has a temper and a slightly authoritarian streak, which will clearly come back to haunt him. After the bombing, the FBI, represented here by Jon Hamm and Ian Gomez, start to realize that everything doesn't add up, leaving Jewell as a prime suspect. When reporters from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) catch wind of this, the events systematically begin to dismantle Richard's life. Olivia Wilde as real-life reporter Kathy Scruggs and David Shae as her fellow journalist Ron Martz appear ominous at first, prowling the city at night like some shadowy figures ready to pounce. While Martz comes across as the slightly mysterious straight man, Wilde lives up to her last name and barrels through the film. It's a fearless, middle finger, flirty, seductive, scene-stealing role, and Wilde clearly relishes it. Unfortunately, the suggestion that Scruggs traded on her sexuality for intel has caused much controversy and consternation amongst viewers and even amongst the staff of the AJC, who have come to her defense since she sadly passed away in 2001. I can understand this, considering Eastwood's political leanings. The main villains in the film seem to be the FBI and journalists. It sounds so 2019, doesn't it? Personally, I look back at the Richard Jewell story as a bellwether for things to come. We saw then how public perception can turn on a dime, something all-too-common now. It's enough to leave an icky taste in my mouth were it not for the excellent filmmaking, writing, and performances. Eastwood achieves great tension during the inciting incident and allows Hauser's fantastic skills to guide us through his truly affecting emotional journey to clear his name. Lesser films would have presented Jewell as a gentle giant, a saint with no faults whatsoever. Jewell may have a sad sack quality, but he's also cunning, a bit of a blowhard, and disarmingly direct. Try watching a late scene involving a donut without wanting to give the guy a big hug as you quietly pat your tears dry. Rockwell also excels as a man who learns to beam with pride at a man he once barely noticed. With Richard Jewell and the upcoming Bombshell, we get conservative characters at the center of their stories. Is Hollywood catering to Trump's base now? Should Hollywood only explore stories with liberal themes? It's a conundrum far too icky for me to dwell upon, especially when the filmmakers evoke the "fake news" mantra and give Jon Hamm such a sneering final line. It all makes me want to stick my head in the sand and just cheer for the little guy who finally gets his day in the sun.
    Glenn G Super Reviewer

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