In 1996, there was a bomb at the Olympic games in Atlanta, GA. This is the story of the FBI’s lead suspect, who also happened to find the bomb and save lives.
Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) found a bomb and saved lives, though FBI agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm) believes him to be the lead suspect. When the media (spearheaded by Olivia Wilde’s character) releases this information, Jewell’s life is turned upside down. His mother (Kathy Bates) and lawyer (Sam Rockwell) must try to calm the tensions and prove Jewell’s innocence. But did he do it?
Clint Eastwood has has a very turbulent record with directing films, but I loved The Mule which came out last holiday season. He follows it up with another dynamite film here, easily an awards contender.
Most of this movie’s success lies on our lead, Paul Walter Hauser. A supporting actor usually, this is his first time in the spotlight and he absolutely nails it. There’s a balance here, where his Jewell is likable and you’re rooting for him, but there’s always an eerie tension that makes you think “Mayyyyybe he did do it.” I’m not sure if he’ll crack the nominees for Best Actor at the Oscars, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.
And the supporting cast here is also incredible. Kathy Bates is great, Sam Rockwell is (as usual) excellent. It’s a perfectly cast movie, allowing this script to truly come to life. I read up on a failed run at this film, starring Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio, but I’m glad that fell through, because I feel like this cast absolutely nailed it.
One thing I’d suggest… If you don’t know how this story unfolds, don’t read into it beforehand. I looked up the real life story and I think the suspense might’ve meant a little more if I didn’t know what was coming.
What doesn’t work?
Not much. It hits all the right notes.
But that said, this movie isn’t going to get a 5-star treatment. I can’t peg why but this movie doesn’t do anything special. The performances are great, but the film they’re in is pretty standard. Sometimes it just doesn’t have the special sauce to get that top notch spot.
Incredible performances anchor this film, with some potential Oscar-nominees. The story is suspenseful and best if you go in without knowing anything. If you’re looking for a drama with real-world implications, this is a no-brainer. It’s not necessary to see on the big screen, but keep it in the back of your mind for reference!