Other than the expected brilliant performance by Kathy Bates, this is a film that is likely to disappear quickly from the big screen.
With Richard Jewell, Director Clint Eastwood has brought us a wretched film without any socially redeeming value. With the exception of Kathy Bates as noted above, the acting is as horrible as the script. On top of that, it serves as an insult to defense lawyers, female newspaper reporters and the FBI.
Though Sam Rockwell remains one of my favorite actors, even he can save this film’s slow journey into a cinematic hell. Let me simply say that when he was hired to represent a security guard wrongly suspected of planting a bomb in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, he appears in nearly every scene wearing shorts. This includes his interaction with both the FBI and the press, leaving you wondering how even a profoundly emotionally disturbed client wouldn’t have quickly fire him.
Next is a regrettable performance by another great actor, John Hamm. Here he plays an unethical FBI agent who repeatedly misleads a suspect while revealing secrets to a female news reporter after she seduces him following a few drinks in a local bar. While I admire Mr. Hamm’s talents almost as much as Mr. Rockwell’s, I doubt if he will put this film on his resume.
And then there is an absolutely offensive performance of another great actor, Olivia Wilde. She plays a newspaper reporter who seduces Hamm’s FBI agent to get confirmation that Richard Jewell is a suspect, and you are left hating her while she basks in her fame following her front page newspaper story.
Finally, there is a tolerable performance of Paul Walter Hauser as the suspect, Richard Jewell. Though I greatly admire Mr. Hauser following his brilliant performances in Late Night (2019), BlacKkKlansman (2018) and I, Tonya (2017), he portrays Jewell as a complete idiot despite his obvious emotional problems. Though he quickly goes from a hero to a villain following the Olympic bombing, you are left trying to find the way to feel sympathy for him given his arrogant approach to nearly every job in his past.
Lastly, and again as noted above, the only thing that saves this film from the trash pile is a performance from Kathy Bates as the mother of Jewell. Playing the only likable character in the film, she saves it with her heart breaking performance as a mom who simply wants to save her son from public destruction.
Though I have a great admiration of Clint Eastwood for various performances over the years, I must admit that I have never forgiven him for his ridiculous performance at the Republican National Convention years ago when he mocked Barack Obama. At the age of 89, it is time that he fold up his tent and drift away from the screen. Simply stated, his time has come.