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Richard Jewell

Since 1971, actor Clint Eastwood has directed a film almost every year. The quality of his directorial works have varied from classics to forgettable duds. What they usually have in common is a sense of realism where anything can happen. Based on true events, ‘Richard Jewell’ looks at ‘fake news’ before the term was invented. It’s a timely reminder in this Twitter/Facebook era not to believe everything you read where it’s best to always err on the side of caution.

Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) works as a security guard at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and notices a suspicious package under a bench at a crowded concert. Discovering it’s a bomb about to detonate, he warns revellers to keep away. Hailed as a hero, the unscrupulous actions of others, including journalist Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), soon sees Jewell labelled a criminal. With the help of lawyer Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell), Jewell tries to avoid a media hounding for his blood as his life becomes a nightmare.

‘Richard Jewell’ is a lesser of Eastwood’s work. Whilst performances are sound, the script and direction are below expected standards. Although a true story, the way events and people are depicted lacks genuine authenticity. Barely any of the individuals elicit sympathy, except for Rockwell’s role. This is a fatal flaw for a film wanting audiences to relate to Jewell’s plight.

It perhaps would have been better had Eastwood made a documentary instead of a semi-fictional/factual tale. His past biographies haven’t been his best movies as it’s clear ‘Richard Jewell’ is beyond his story-telling skills. It isn’t as compelling as expected with the script pushing the boundaries of taste and cliché-written archetypes.

‘Richard Jewell’ is a hodgepodge of facts and events painted in very broad strokes. It’s interesting in parts but never rises towards what it could be. Eastwood’s 21st Century output hasn’t been as good as his previous century ones. His determination to still tell any type of story is commendable however even if his latest isn’t up to his usual high mark.

Rating out of 10: 5

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