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Richard Jewell (2019)

Updated on July 8, 2020

Richard Jewell (2019) review

This film was something quite special. This is a true story inspired by real events, but I didn’t have much knowledge about it myself. This story touched me and also made me angry. To me, this film exposes the inaccuracy of the judicial system and how social media can spread lies and destroy people. This movie impressed me with the lengths they went to in order to recreate the concert where the bombing occurred. The casting was on point and the script was marvelous.

Richard Jewell (2019) is based on a true story and was written by Billy Ray and directed by Clint Eastwood. It stars Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde. Richard Jewell is an office worker who has aspirations of protecting people and being involved in law enforcement. He gets a job as a security guard monitoring Centennial Park during the Olympic games. On July 27th, 1996, Richard reported a suspicious backpack under a park bench. They find out it’s a bomb and secure the perimeter moments before it explodes. Richard is donned a hero for his fast action, but soon he becomes the prime suspect in the bombing and his whole life is turned upside down.

This movie jarred me. All I can think of after seeing this is Richard’s mother. This poor woman got to be proud of her hero son for only four days before her life became a nightmare. Where is the justice for what this woman and her son endured? Like I mentioned earlier, going into this movie I had no knowledge about these events, and the whole thing paints a picture of failure in our criminal system.

All the performances in this film were above par but the one that stood out the most to me was Paul Walter Hauser. I haven’t really seen this actor in any other roles that I recall, but he gave a phenomenal performance in this film. He was able to display every emotion that the character was going through immaculately, and his acting chemistry with Kathy Bates was moving to watch.

I recommend this movie to literally everyone. There is a story here that people need to see, if only to learn what happens when we blindly follow the masses.

Cast trivia

  • Nicolas Cage was being considered for a role in this film.
  • This is the second time that Jon Hamm has been directed by Clint Eastwood, the first being Eastwood’s Space Cowboys (2000).
  • Initially the project was announced with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill teamed to produce the film, with Hill playing Jewell and DiCaprio playing Jewell’s lawyer.
  • Clint Eastwood was officially attached in early 2019. DiCaprio and Hill did not star in the film, but stayed on as producers.
  • Kathy Bates was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress, but lost to Laura Dern for Marriage Story (2019).
  • Paul Walter Hauser gained 25 pounds for this role.

Sam Rockwell and Paul Walter Hauser

production trivia

  • This film is based on the 1997 Vanity Fair article “American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell” by Marie Brenner, and the 2019 book The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen.
  • The world premiere was on November 20, 2019 at the AFI fest and was theatrically released in the US on December 13, 2019 by Warner Bros. Pictures.
  • In May 2019, Warner Bros. acquired the film rights from 20th Century Fox, which had been acquired by the Walt Disney Company earlier that year.
  • Richard Jewell (2019) had a budget of 45 million dollars, and the worldwide gross was 43.7 million dollars. The film’s performance was characterized as a box office flop by several media outlets.
  • The film was initially projected to make 10 million dollars in its opening weekend. After making only 1.6 million on its first day, the projection was lowered to 5 million. The film ended up debuting at 4.7 million, making it one of the 50 worst wide openings ever.
  • The film came under fire for its portrayal of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs, who died of a prescription drug overdose in 2001. Criticism was directed at the film for depicting her as offering to engage in sex with an FBI agent in return for confidential information.
  • Filming of the concerts and bombing scenes took place in the same location as the original incident site of Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. Filming of the bomb scene was done on the 23rd anniversary of the original bombing. Most scenes were filmed on the same dates of the 1996 Olympics.23 years later.
  • Bobbi Jewell asked that the Kenny Rogers concert be included in the film, as she is a huge fan. Kenny Rogers passed away four months after the premiere of this film.


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