My Review of Film ‘Richard Jewell’: Corrupt Media; Inept FBI; and Destruction of a Real Hero
The film ‘Richard Jewell’ was one that could have been made much more compelling, but the nature of the real story itself, unfortunately, sowed the seeds of a narrative that reflected the real-life debacle that resulted in a real American hero that saved an unknown number of lives, being depicted as a slow, Southern buffoon that was hard to relate to and empathize with.
More than the manufactured outrage in regard to the irresponsible reporting from ambitious ‘journalist’ Kathy Scruggs who was shown offering sex in return for a scoop concerning an undisclosed suspect Richard Jewell, the real reason for the film not taking off was the characterization of Jewell himself.
Paul Walter Hauser, who played the part of Jewell, did an extraordinary job in playing his character. My thought is he almost did too good of a job in the sense of, as mentioned above, removing the ability of viewers to sympathize with his plight.
The major flaw in Jewell’s personality was his naive view of law enforcement, which in spite of at the time of the bombing, being a security guard, considered himself to be equal to regular law enforcement officials.
He projected his view of law enforcement officials upon individuals that were investigating him, and that resulted in him being willing to talk to investigators even after his lawyer instructed him not to.
One of the strengths of Jewell as a result of taking his job seriously, was he was hypervigilant in his duties. That presumably resulted in his taking note of the backpack with the bomb in it left at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.
Another negative in the movie is is presented Jewell as being so enamored with being a part of ‘law enforcement,’ that he had little outrage or aggressive responses to his situation. Even if it was true to his personality, it had a sense of unreality to it.
His quiet, unassuming personality; heavy weight; naivety concerning law enforcement officials; and little in the way of emotional response to the outrageous lies concerning the false reporting and lack of any evidence concerning himself, left it difficult to emotionally connect with his plight.
It’s an important film at this time because it exposed the fake news reporting that is prevalent today, and the corruption that can infiltrate law enforcement agencies, even when they know there is no evidence of a crime being committed.
The pathetic attempt to stand up for the disgraced journalist Kathy Scruggs, who pushed for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to report that Jewell was the focus of the federal investigation into the bombing, and whom also died of a drug overdose at the age of 42, isn’t what caused the film to underperform, it was the excellent portrayal of Jewell by Paul Walter Hauser.
Hauser did such a good job of revealing the personality of Jewell, that the underlying important themes of fake news and at best, irresponsible law enforcement authorities that destroyed the life of simple man that was in fact, a real American hero that saved many lives, was obscured.
Nonetheless, it’s an important movie that should be seen by those interested in seeing how mainstream media outlets and their law enforcement allies can railroad innocent people, even after evidence is found that exonerates them from the charges made against them.