ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Hero's Arduous Marathon: Richard Jewell

Updated on January 1, 2020


In 1996, an alert security guard noticed a suspicious backpack hidden under a bench after receiving an ominous phone call. He notified others assigned to security about it, and they tried to clear the area. The backpack, unfortunately, exploded before all could be cleared. Two people died as a result, and many more were wounded. Things, however, didn't go well for the person whose report prompted a response. Clint Eastwood's film Richard Jewell looks into the Centennial Park bombing and its aftermath. Richard (Paul Walter Hauser) had wanted opportunities in law enforcement, but things hadn't gone well for him more than once. He got another chance to prove himself in a temporary gig providing security at the Atlanta Olympics. However, when the Atlanta branch of the FBI takes charge of the investigation, they discover issues in Richard's background. Just before a shift, FBI agents Tom Shaw (John Hamm) and Dan Bennet (Ian Gomez) visit the apartment where Jewell lives with his mother, Bobi (Kathy Bates). The agents ask Jewell to come with them to their headquarters on the pretense of making a safety video based on the incident. They want him to sign a paper that implicates him of wrongdoing, but he refuses.

When he exercises his right to contact a lawyer, Richard reaches out to Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell), whom the guard had known during the days when they worked together at a law firm. Bryant, now in private practice, grows suspicious of the questioning, and manages to terminate the interview and get his client released. Later, Shaw has a rendezvous with Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), a journalist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. During their encounter, Scruggs manages to get Shaw to reveal where his investigation is headed. She co-writes a front page piece, revealing that Jewell is now a suspect. Not only do agents come to the apartment and confiscate anything that could potentially be used to make bombs, but the media converges on the building, seeking comment. Over the next three months, Jewell becomes the subject of intense scrutiny. Scruggs, still assigned to the coverage, uncovers something that indicates an oversight could have been made.


Richard Jewell, based on accounts from two different sources, shows the consequences of a rush to judgment from director Clint Eastwood. Jewell not only had his past working against him, but he kept believing that he and the FBI were on the same side. His counsel has a hard time convincing him that it's not in his best interest to speak. That portion of the movie is handled thoughtfully. Normally, I don't discuss how fiction differs from the facts, but here, Eastwood and screenwriter Billy made a huge omission. Among the libel suits filed by Jewell and continued by his estate, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was cleared of any wrongdoing. Making the FBI and the media the bad guys in this film plays to a pro-Trump agenda, where they are the targets of allegations that are largely or entirely untrue. Eastwood is usually much more even-handed in other based-on-fact films profiling heroic people. Flags Of Our Fathers, for example, shows soldiers yanked from the battlefield to come home and promote the war effort without understanding the toll it would take on the men. Changeling shows a mother severely mistreated by the authorities when she questions the fact that the boy they believed was her son was not. Eastwood normally does well to steer clear of any obvious bias, but Richard Jewell reeks of it.

The heroes of this story, though, are portrayed very well. Hauser, who came to prominence as a bumbling criminal in I, Tonya, now takes the lead as a bumbling officer. It's not that Richard ever meant to be bad in his work, but he tries too hard to put the enforcement into law enforcement. That behavior cost Jewell two different jobs. He makes the most of the Olympics gig, and responds properly when he gets the call that changes his life. Even the FBI accusations don't stop him from wishing to be an ally of the law. Hauser not only excels here, but he bears quite the resemblance to the man he portrays. Rockwell shines as Bryant, a lawyer who helps out his old supply clerk. Bryant, though, grows almost as frustrated with Jewell as he does with the FBI. When the lawyer advises his client not to speak, the client doesn't always listen. Bates gives a strong performance as Bobi, a mother finding herself unwillingly thrust into the spotlight, but just as certain as Watson that the FBI has their focus on the wrong man.


It's often too easy to piece together certain details of a person's life and conclude something inaccurate without any proof. Richard Jewell is a case study in gathering details and reaching an inaccurate conclusion. Many people want their justice to come swiftly, but they forget that justice doesn't always follow that game plan. If proper justice comes quickly, that is good. Many times, though, people have to wait for the truth to be revealed, and that can have adverse consequences as well.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Richard Jewell three stars. Eastwood gives another hero his due.

Richard Jewell trailer

© 2020 Pat Mills


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)