19+ Richard Jewell Reviews – Widow Shares The Taint That Haunted Him To His Grave

Richard Jewell ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 

Some movies not only tell a good, entertaining story, but share an important message that could impact any of us in our everyday lives.

There are two movies in December 2019 that this description might fit. One is definitely Richard Jewell which deals with a demonizing media and the other, Bombshell, with sexual harassment in the workplace, that I haven’t seen yet in order to determine if I like it or not.

Before reading further, there are many spoilers about specific scenes that follow. If you want to see this film but haven’t yet, then come back to this post when you’re done watching. My review linked at the beginning of this post is spoiler-free.

… you’ve been warned SPOILERS AHEAD ….

Fox News sat down with the Richard Jewell’s widow and she describes what it was like after this terrible event in his life took place.

“It did scar him.  He was very paranoid,” Jewell conceded, acknowledging that they met and married in 1998, several years after the bombing. “I didn’t know Richard before the bombing.  But afterward, he was so paranoid, he would be watching all the windows when we were out in public — looking in the rearview mirror… He would have nightmares — wake up in cold sweats — until he died, he still had those.”

Richard Jewell’s widow: 1996 Olympics hero ‘scarred’ by false FBI accusation and media smears | Fox News

60 Minutes interviewed Richard Jewell at least two times. The first was in 1996, following the FBI issuing a statement that he was no longer a target of the investigation.

Richard Jewell in 1996 on 60 MInutes

Six years later, Jewell calls out the 60 Minutes team for also thinking he was the bomber at the time, without a trial and conviction. Not innocent until proven guilty. The man should have been labeled a hero by the media, but instead because the FBI had considered him for 88 days a suspect, they latched onto the villain narrative that Jewell said continued to haunt him. His widow would confirm that he still had nightmares about his treatment up to his death in 2007.

On January 2, 2002 60 minutes revisited the case:

Richard Jewell in 2002 on 60 Minutes

Perhaps the most incredible thing is after this happened, nobody ever apologized to Richard Jewell involved with that incident. He only got a letter from the FBI saying he was no longer considered a target of their investigation.

The Controversy Surrounding Reporter Kathy Scruggs Portrayal

Olivia Wilde plays AJC reporter Kathy Scruggs who first broke the story based on information leaked from an FBI source. The newspaper is angry that the movie suggests that Scruggs offered to have sex with the FBI agent in exchange for information.

“The AJC’s reporter is reduced to a sex-trading object in the film,” the letter says. “Such a portrayal makes it appear that the AJC sexually exploited its staff and/or that it facilitated or condoned offering sexual gratification to sources in exchange for stories. That is entirely false and malicious, and it is extremely defamatory and damaging.”

AJC.com

Warner Bros. is digging in and standing by their disclaimer already at the end of the film that says it is a dramatization of true events. It’s a line many “true stories” go to when they play with the historical facts. Like when Queen’s Freddy Mercury tells the band in Bohemian Rhapsody he had AIDS in a meeting long before it actually happened.

Movies play with timelines, facts, blend characters for dramatic purposes. Am not sure if that’s what happened here with Scruggs, but I noted that her story in the film seems incomplete. Scruggs in the film realizes that Jewell is innocent and we never see her go back to the paper and print this revelation. I’m sure it must have happened, but the film doesn’t show us this part leaving Scruggs as an adversarial character who has a “he didn’t do it” moment. To the AJC’s credit it doesn’t really walk her back as a villain.

Ironically, Scruggs becomes demonized by her portrayal in the movie, just as Scruggs reporting — the facts — that Richard Jewell was a suspect in the bombing.

Scruggs died in 2001 from an overdose of pain medicine, so she can’t defend herself against the accusation of “sex for info.” Olivia Wilde is sticking by her portrayal in a series of tweets that say she “researched Scruggs” before starring in the film and things aren’t what they seem.

From what I could dig around with minimal research, Scruggs worked hard and partied hard. This is from people who knew and worked with her. She died, as did Jewell, in her early 40s. Scruggs dated a police officer and was friendly with the police. It isn’t that much of a dramatic stretch to believe there was some pillow talk on the Richard Jewell case, but that is all just hypothetical, there is nothing factual.

Just as there was nothing factual to tie Richard Jewell to the Centenniel bombing.

My guess, and it’s only that, is that the AJC lawsuit will be thrown out. Richard Jewell isn’t presented as a factual documentary. It an entertainment film “based on” true events. For Warner Bros. and other studios, that is the literary and legal get out of jail free card.

It sucks that Scruggs isn’t alive to defend herself on this one. My suspicion is that the truth is somewhere in the middle of what the film portrayed and the AJC asserts.

Eric Rudolph – The Real Centenniel Bomber – was arrested in 2005

It took the feds another couple years to figure out who really did it, only to have Eric Rudolph go on the lam in the Appalachian mountains, making apprehension difficult. He was apprehended digging through a trash bin in 2003, some 7 years after the bombing took place. Rudolph also was responsible for two other bombings, a lesbian bar and an abortion clinic.

Rudolph traded a death sentence for life by admitting responsibility for the bombings. Richard Jewell was finally, officially exonerated in 2005, only to die himself in 2007.

Richard Jewell Died in 2007

Jewell was a heavyset man and died on August 29, 2007 from medical complications related to diabetes. He was just 44 years old.

This is one of the saddest parts of the story, and yet it is reduced to text at the end of the movie. We never get to see any happiness for Richard Jewell in the film, save for the letter from the FBI after 88 days of hell for his family and him, that he wasn’t a suspect any longer.

The FBI knew he couldn’t have made the phone calls and yet it took them nearly three months to admit he could not have been in two places (essentially) at one time.

No to Oscar for Kathy Bates as Bobbi Jewell

Kathy Bates has already played the momma character — in The Waterboy. Whenever she spoke, I kept thinking I’d see Adam Sandler come out and crack some joke.

Paul Walter Hauser is great as Richard Jewell, but I’ve seen better male acting performances in 2019.

Summary

There are parts I wished would have been fleshed out better in the film, notably an epilogue section would have been good at the end showing that Richard Jewell got married. We do see him in a brief scene as a police officer years later and we get the text messages, but there was an opportunity to do a little more.

Kathy Scruggs was a little too important in the story. Sure, she broke the story, but the film returned to her more than it needed to and as now we’re seeing with the AJC vs. Warner Bros conflict, it was an unnecessary distraction from Jewell’s story. There were multiple news outlets that Richard Jewell felt did him dirty — he would eventually sue several of them (CNN, The New York Post, NBC, etc) and all settled with him except for AJC which stood by their reporting as accurate.

Instead of focusing on Scruggs so much, maybe the film should have focused on a collection of news outlets and specific quotes actually made on air. There has to be YouTube videos of that coverage. No legal disputing those facts. Would have been interesting to see a brief montage of that real reporting.

All in all, I think Clint Eastwood did a pretty good job on the film. Sure, improvements could have been made to make it better but the acting is good.

Reviews by Others

Let’s see, so far, what other moviegoers think of Richard Jewell.

Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs. Yes, even those who disagree with my reviews and vice versa.

Recommended

  1. An Odyssey Through Film: “…benefiting from stellar performances while serving as a serviceable reminder of its late subject’s selfless efforts, Richard Jewell is merely an above-average topping of his tepid recent output. Questionable writing remains an issue as details are either glossed over or excessively embellished upon as we’ve come to expect from similar true story fare, however the focal acuity in chronicling Jewell’s journey is very admirable.”
  2. Bill Pence (3/5): ” a well-acted and directed film that follows the investigation after the 1996 bombing in Centennial Park in Atlanta, during the Olympics. Unfortunately, the film is marred by a significant amount of adult language, and felt overly long at two hours and nine minutes.”
  3. Blaine L. Pardoe (5/5): “This is a sobering film, one that has dramatic ups and downs.  It leaves you thinking, wondering, and in my case, worrying.  Out of this year’s crop of films, Avengers Endgame ranks first, Richard Jewell is number two.  While I am not sure I will buy a copy and re-watch it, I am glad that I did see it and you should too.”
  4. Bookshelf Battle: “Overall, great movie and shocking look at some of the tactics that were used against Jewell, including a bizarre attempt to trick him into confessing to things he didn’t do by telling him he was participating in a training film instead of a taped interrogation.  Sad to say it happened in America.”
  5. Burnt Orange: “The movie is fine. True to form, people will stop talking about it in a few months because another movie will spark a new controversy. And once again, Richard Jewell will be shoved out of the spotlight as quickly as he was shoved into it.”
  6. fanboyreviewer (3.5/4): “While it had its flaws, this was overall a really solid biopic with some well-directed tension and excellent performances with an investing story.” (Ed: this review is by an extra actor actually in the film)
  7. Film Fodder (4/5): “…is a very interesting, captivating biopic that has some top-notch acting and solid writing. It has a valuable message to be careful about letting your opinion be swayed by anything you hear without proof. Although it can get a little slow and redundant in places, it’s still definitely worth going to see.”
  8. Great Martin: “The actors are the ones who make this movie with the screenplay Billy Ray a little too scattered and director Clint Eastwood seems to want to show that liberals don’t run the movie business so we have a lot of unnecessary politics and wasted time.”
  9. Griff’s Picks (Grade: B-): “To Eastwood, Jewell is a hero not just because he saved people’s lives, but also because he was an ordinary and imperfect man who rose to the occasion when the moment demanded it. That’s the story Richard Jewell should be telling, and when it fully sticks to that path it succeeds. While Richard Jewell has its problematic elements, it ultimately works because of Paul Walter Hauser’s striking performance as a flawed man who rose to the occasion when it was needed most.”
  10. Jeff Huston: ” Eastwood’s skills as a director are apparent in how the actual bombing sequence is staged and assembled, but his shortcomings as a nearly 90-year-old storyteller drag the overall telling. The dramatic pace lacks urgency and its presentation is, at best, workmanlike. The filmmaking is professionally rendered but it lacks a passionate conviction.”
  11. Jimmy Kinkaid: “…there is a lot to recommend about the movie. Paul Walter Hauser is perfectly cast as the title character. He brings a bit of the characters he played in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman to the part, but he also captures Jewell’s essential kindness as well.”
  12. Matthew Liedke (3.75/5): “It’s mostly well crafted, though, and very well acted. Some of its broader story elements cause it to stumble a bit, though, and there is a sort of one-dimensional feeling.”
  13. Nathaniel Muir: “…had so much potential. It is a demoralizing story that can deliver a poignant message in today’s clicks happy atmosphere. The film also has a strong cast that work together tremendously. Unfortunately, it takes too many detours that impact the intended meaning. The female characters are decades old archetypes while Eastwood’s version of the media is more about conspiracies than commentary.”
  14. Physics Overpowered: “…is definitely worth a watch and I recommend it. The political implications are interesting to contempt as it shows something that is still happening today in America but the theme and the moral is right on the money.”
  15. Robbie’s Movie Reviews (7/10): “It’s got a great heart to it, filled to the brim with the magic of friendship, determination, and what it really means to be a hero.  Fantastic film with acting and great use of cinema skills, the movie will certainly be engaging to those that like biographical dramas.  It’s true that it needs a little fine tuning in the fact vs dramad epartment and could get a little more exciting and complete, but overall, I was very impressed with what Eastwood put together “
  16. SATYAMSHOT: “…a true-life story in a hard-hitting manner, and more importantly, humanely of person wronged by over-zealous security system.”
  17. Scene By Marilyn: “Another good movie directed by Clint Eastwood.  Good acting – Rockwell, Houser, Hamm.  One thing I found amusing: a conference room filled with FBI’ers that appeared to be at least 40% non-white, one Asian-looking man, and maybe even a couple of women.  Like that happened.”
  18. That Darn Girl (5/5): “As Richard fights back, you will feel pride bloom in your chest.  The FBI’s mistakes are sadly laughable as it is disgusting.  In a day when sensationalism and clicks determine innocence and guilt, how long until another Richard Jewell is tried by the media?”
  19. The Pissed Off Printer: “Acting was very good. Sam Rockwell was brilliant. Direction was very good.  Story was well paced and it went by pretty fast for the 2 hour length.  And they gave Jewell the cutest beagle as his dog.”
  20. Vague Visages / Peter Bell: “…a captivating recreation of a man’s journey through hell and back. Its strong acting and character relationship dynamics are the main selling points, as Eastwood’s sense of direction and pacing are the best they have been in a long time.”
  21. Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: “…is a roller coaster ride, at points you think that Richard Jewell has no way out, and that fate is certainly stacked against him, but then he and his lawyer start fighting back, and there is nothing to do but to hope and cheer for him to get on the right side of things.”

Not Recommended (or on the fence)

Most reviews from the 750+ movie sites I’m following are positive for the film.

  • Jordan Woodson’s Reviews: “…there are truly no villains in this scenario aside from the true bomber as everyone is actually doing their jobs just like Jewell was. The story of the title character is an important one to tell as he is undoubtedly an American hero and should be praised as such, I just wish it was told in a better movie.”

The comments area awaits what you think of this movie. If you have reviewed it already, please feel free to share where that review is located along with a brief synopsis of your review.

NOW PLAYING REVIEWS: Richard Jewell, Black Christmas, Jumanji: The Next Level

Weekend #50 12/13/2019 is all about anti-climaxes.

First, we don’t get to watch either Uncut Gems (opens on Christmas Eve in our area) or Bombshell (opens next week in our area). Secondly, we get two fairly underwhelming sequels, one of which isn’t recommended, and another which is maybe recommended (read on!).

At least there is one star with a bit of a shine, and that film is this week’s #1 new film recommendation …

Richard Jewell ⭐️⭐️⭐️½

In case you didn’t know by now (I’ve mentioned this several times, so sorry for beating this legend of Hollywood home), Clint Eastwood is behind the camera and we get a tasty helping (again) of Kathy Bates playing a “momma” character like she did to Adam Sandler in The Waterboy. She is good, but it is silly to suggest she win an Oscar for her performance when it isn’t the first time she’s done this character.

Richard Jewell is our top pick for weekend #50 2019

My guess is the box office money is going to go first to the third film on our list, that isn’t recommended, but story-wise, Richard Jewell is the best of the lot.

Black Christmas (2019) ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Am already catching crap for this one. Of course it’s from a man. I get it, this is a man-hater’s movie, so why should any man recommend it? You have to watch the video review and read my text review to understand this recommendation comes with all kinds of ifs and buts, but that’s the danger of a star rating. People want to make it personal when they dislike something a critic likes and vice versa.

This bears the name of the original, but it’s all about hating on men — literally and figuratively

Plenty of criticisms for this movie, including the terrible script and characterization, but saw seeds of ideas that had potential and were likable enough to say, consider it. It should never have been given the title it has, but is a better feminist movie than Charlie’s Angels (2019) ⭐️½. .

Jumanji: The Next Level ⭐️½ (ScreenX)

Caught this on Thursday night 12/12 in ScreenX format. Didn’t add much

ScreenX is not the best way to view this movie. Our guess is that this film will win the most box office sales crown this weekend, perhaps based on the strength of the first two movies, but neither Kara or I enjoyed this film. It just felt too sequel fatigued. Stick a fork in this franchise is what we think. If you liked this one, that’s awesome. I’m happy any time somebody loves a movie because they will encourage their friends and others to go see the movie. That’s good for theaters and there are always other movies at the multiplexes.

Want to see what else we recommend NOW PLAYING at the theater?

Here are other movies we’ve seen at the theater recently (maybe they are available in your area still) that are recommended. Any movie rated at least 3-stars is recommended. You should read any 3-star review (click the title), because sometimes we do qualify those recommendations, meaning we were entertained, but it doesn’t mean that it was necessarily that good.

4-star movies are highly recommended and films we rate as 4 1/2 or 5 stars are must see. NOTE: of all 2019 movies seen in theaters (over 55 movies since August 12, 2019), there have been no 4.5 or 5 star movies rated. Zero. Just hasn’t been anything either of us felt was that amazing. Am hoping there will be at least one before the end of the year .. but time is running out.

  1. Ford v Ferrari ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ScreenX
  2. Knives Out ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  3. The Good Liar ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  4. Joker ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  5. Richard Jewell ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  6. Dark Waters ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  7. Last Christmas ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  8. Frozen II ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  9. Hold On ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  10. Black Christmas (2019) ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Don’t forget the butter on that popcorn! Have a great time at the movies.

Opening 12-12-2019 in Theaters: Uncut Gems, Bombshell, Jumanji The Next Level, Richard Jewell, Black Christmas

3 of 5 movies released “wide” shown above plus The Polar Express on a one day bonus showing

Wednesday is here and that means … new movies at the theater starting tomorrow!

Yes, more new movies coming to theaters this weekend (Thursday forward). Right now, at least in our area – and via Google search — only three of the five being released “wide” are actually showing as coming soon with presale tickets available.

Or Box Office Mojo is jacked up and these two movies are really “limited” release (which I think is what’s happening) for Uncut Gems and Bombshell, two movies I was most eagerly looking to see out of the five. Check this out (follow the yellow highlight in the screenshot):

Box Office Mojo info by IMDB pro shows Bombshell and Uncut Gems are “wide”, but they are not

If someone like me who actually follows movies and researches when they come out is confused, how is an average or “once in awhile” moviegoer going to sort this out. Come on, IMDBPro, you guys are being IMDB amateurs. Why would anybody pay for this information when you can’t get something basic right on the homepage of your website?

Stay with me. Because there is conflicting info on other major movie info sites.

I know, I know, it’s minor issue. They have tons of great data on the inside … for $20/month or whatever. It’s just annoying that I can’t figure out how and where these limited movies are playing so I can pay to go and see them. Customers should never have to jump through hoops like this. It’s no wonder fewer people are going to movie theaters these days. Some must just throw their hands up and wait for it to show up on streaming.

Rotten Tomatoes has a movie info section which shows Uncut Gems as opening on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2019, 13 days from the “wide” date listed by Box Office Mojo by IMDBPro:

Uncut Gems is not opening in our area until December 24 … 11 days after “wide” opening. Sigh

Same source, RT, showing Bombshell as “opening” on December 19, 2019:

See, now you can join me in confusion.

Am sure your zip code is different than what’s shown above, so maybe, just maybe you’ll find Bombshell or Uncut Gems showing somewhere near you. Since they aren’t showing in our area — at least as of this writing — we won’t be seeing them this coming weekend. Unfortunately, there won’t be a review and rating for either of these two movies until on/after the dates mentioned above.

So, let’s get the two movies we (probably) can’t see this weekend out of the way first:

Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems featuring Adam Sandler in a dramatic role is not available for me until December 24

My interest for this movie is pretty high. I’m bummed that I have to wait until Christmas Eve to see this and probably need to skip past numerous spoiler-laden reviews that will be coming between December 13 and December 24. Give me a big brick of cheese to go with my wine.

Anticipation: 9/10

Bombshell

Charlize Theron looks so much like Megyn Kelly to me that almost for that reason alone I’m interested in seeing this film. I’m not sure how critics will receive the movie based on the underlying politics, but am hoping reviewers will rate the movie first and politics second. I certainly will, at least as much as I can from the source material. Just because I may not like what the FOX Network does or doesn’t do should not matter about whether or not the story this movie is telling is entertaining. I’ll have to wait until next week — December 19, or so I’m seeing at the moment — to be able to watch, review and rate this one. If you have it in your area, yes, I’m envious!

Anticipation: 8 / 10

Jumanji: The Next Level

Good to see the cast is back. Jack Black is almost always fun. I have preferred The Rock in more action roles than comedic ones typically but this blended comedy-action movie seems to fit his acting style.

Anticipation: 5 / 10

Richard Jewell

Richard Jewell official trailer

Directed by Clint Eastwood. A dramatic retelling of the 1996 Centenniel Park Olympic bombing hero turned suspect Richard Jewell. I have tried to steer away from learning much about this film because I saw a headline that spoiled an important part of the movie for me. I’d warn others who don’t want key plot points ruined to avoid seeking much coverage on this one. The trailers asks a pretty key question and a simple Google news review of stories about this movie spoils that. Sigh.

Anticipation: 7 / 10.

Black Christmas

Black Christmas official trailer

Reboot of the classic horror movie Black Christmas. Generally not a fan of horror reboots to date, but do enjoy Christmas themed horror movies, so a little mixed on what this one will bring. Trailer is just … OK.

Anticipation: 4 / 10

ANTICIPATION for Week of 12/12/19 MOVIES

How much on scale of 1-10 anticipating the 12-12-2019 movies? Those marked with asterisk are not available in our area this week, so will carryover in future weeks until available to watch in our area.

  1. *Uncut Gems – 9/10
  2. *Bombshell – 8/10
  3. Richard Jewell  – 7/10
  4. Jumanji: The Next Level – 5/10
  5. Black Christmas – 4/10

Are there screenings in our area to see these movies?

As noted at the start of this post, Uncut Gems is not available until 12/24 and Bombshell 12/19, the other three are confirmed wide screenings available in our area and the plan is to watch, review and rate all.

FIRST LOOK: Richard Jewell

Clint Eastwood. Mostly an actor before, now mostly director. I like a lot of his work either way.

If Eastwood’s name is attached to a movie — any movie, any genre — I’m there. You have those actors and directors on your must watch list, too, right? We all do. He’s mine.

So, with no surprise I’m excited to see Richard Jewell opening wide in a week. I made the fatal SPOILER mistake of researching too much into this movie in that a key plot point ruined for me. I won’t do the same for anybody reading this.

Here’s the official trailer:

For well over a month this has been running heavily in theater previews

I vaguely remembered the name Richard Jewell as associated with a bombing on the east coast. Upon reading the movie info, the memory refreshed:

Directed by Clint Eastwood and based on true events, “Richard Jewell” is a story of what happens when what is reported as fact obscures the truth. “There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have thirty minutes.” The world is first introduced to Richard Jewell as the security guard who reports finding the device at the 1996 Atlanta bombing-his report making him a hero whose swift actions save countless lives. But within days, the law enforcement wannabe becomes the FBI’s number one suspect, vilified by press and public alike, his life ripped apart. Reaching out to independent, anti-establishment attorney Watson Bryant, Jewell staunchly professes his innocence. But Bryant finds he is out of his depth as he fights the combined powers of the FBI, GBI and APD to clear his client’s name, while keeping Richard from trusting the very people trying to destroy him.

Richard Jewell movie info at Rotten Tomatoes

This has the potential to be a real nail-biter. Are you planning to see this in the theater?