Richard Jewell Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: the script is based on real events; actors’ work; direction by Clint Eastwood Cons: some scenes look monotonous; Controversial image of journalist “Richard Jewell” / Richard Jewell

Drama genre
Director Clint Eastwood
Starring: Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell), Sam Rockwell (Watson Bryant), Kathy Bates (Richard’s mother), Jon Hamm (Tom Shaw), Olivia Wilde (Katie Scruggs), Mike Pniewski (Brandon Walker), etc.
Appian Way, Misher Films, 75 Year Plan Productions
Year of release 2019 (in Ukraine 2020)
IMDb website

The film “Richard Jewell” was based on the true story of an American security guard who was accused of committing a terrorist attack. Jewell was patrolling the area where events were taking place for the 1996 Olympic Games. He discovered a backpack with a bomb and began evacuating people, and a few days after the incident he turned from a savior into the main suspect. This case was discussed in all the media, which completely deprived Richard of any privacy.

The listed events are shown in some detail in the film’s trailer, but the film does not begin with the moment of the terrorist attack. Clint Eastwood gives the viewer time to get to know Richard Jewell, understand his quirks, and form an opinion about him. The director does not try to embellish the hero’s personal traits, but at the same time he obviously sympathizes with him.

Interestingly, this is not the first time Clint Eastwood has taken on the film adaptation of events that caused great resonance. Years earlier, he had directed a film about a terrorist attack (The 15:17 to Paris), and Clint also filmed the story of a crew commander whose decisive actions saved the lives of passengers, but were later condemned by the public (Sully).


In Richard Jewell, Clint Eastwood once again focuses on re-creating mass condemnation using documentary footage from the Olympic Games. The director quite convincingly, but at the same time somewhat drawn out, shows the actions of reporters tormenting someone who can provide them with a sensation. The main and overly one-sided embodiment of journalistic evil is Katie Scruggs (played by Olivia Wilde). This is an on-screen and possibly embittered portrayal of a real-life journalist who worked for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There is no way to challenge the character’s authenticity, since Scruggs passed away in 2001.


Otherwise, the director’s view of the situation with the accusation remains quite humane, even instructive in its own way – Eastwood hints that you should not judge a person by his appearance or his social skills. The story also works thanks to the leading actor Paul Walter Hauser (appeared in cameo roles in the films BlacKkKlansman; I, Tonya). He imitates the behavior of the real Richard Jewell, portraying confusion and humility.


In general, the role of Richard Jewell was supposed to go to actor Jonah Hill, and Leonardo DiCaprio could appear in the film with him. Such plans were announced when the project was at the development stage, however, over the course of several years they have changed significantly. Sam Rockwell took DiCaprio’s place, and Hill remained behind the scenes, serving as producer.


Since there are no big surprises or unexpected twists in the film’s plot, there are times when it looks a little monotonous. This is where Sam Rockwell comes to the rescue, playing the main character’s lawyer. His character does not have an iron grip, but he builds trusting communication with his client and is not afraid to hurl abuse at law enforcement agencies.


It is also worth noting the performance of actress Kathy Bates – she played Richard’s mother, who was trying to cope with the situation in which her son became the main criminal in the United States. For this role, Bates was nominated for an Oscar, but the statuette went to Laura Dern.

In general, the film was shot according to the classic canons of old Hollywood, which Clint Eastwood adheres to to this day. This deprives the picture of much tension or any attempt to confuse the viewer by pointing him in the wrong direction. It turns out to be a sympathetic movie about an insignificant person who once greatly influenced the lives of hundreds of people.


“Richard Jewell” is a movie without plot tricks that simply and humanly tells the real story.

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