REVIEW: Richard Jewell

Richard Jewell is a movie based on a true story of the security guard who found the bomb that was planted  in Centennial Park at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. While the movie endured some criticism regarding its portrayal of reporter Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), I found it to be an entertaining and enjoyable picture overall. The film starts by providing the audience with some background into the mindset of the movie’s namesake and main character, Richard Jewell (Peter Walter Hauser). Richard’s dream is to join law enforcement in some capacity, but he is unable to just dive into a job as a police officer immediately. The movie takes great care to establish his relationship with Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell) early on as well, showing that Richard worked in his office at one point and was such a good employee that he went so far as to stock his drawers with Snickers bars. They then show that Richard left his job at Bryant’s office for security work at a university. While working at this university he “overachieved” in a way and ends up getting fired for overstepping the limits of his power. All of this background is included to set up Richard’s character as someone who dreams of being in law enforcement so much that he actually tries too hard to get there. When the 1996 Olympics come to Atlanta, Richard seizes the opportunity to be hired as a security guard. After a run in with some drunk teens, Richard notices a backpack is left under his security bench. He is the only one who considers it suspicious and insists that they call the “bomb guy” to check it out. Unfortunately for everyone at the concert, Richard’s suspicion proved correct; there was a bomb in the backpack. Thankfully, because he was able to alert the other security personnel, they were able to clear the immediately surrounding area and limit the damage to slightly over 100 injuries and 12 or 13 deaths I believe. Unfortunately for Richard, the FBI is not sold on the legitimacy of his heroics and start investigating him as the bomber. The controversy surrounding the movie comes from its depiction of how the story that the FBI was investigating Jewell got out. The movie shows Kathy Scruggs seducing an FBI agent (Jon Hamm) into telling her who the focus of the investigation is. The newspaper she worked for refute the validity of this portrayal, arguing there is no evidence to suggest that this ever happened. Regardless, word of the investigation got out and Richard Jewell went from hero to public enemy number one very quickly. After realizing he might be a suspect, Richard calls “the only lawyer he knows”, Watson Bryant, to represent him. Mr. Bryant prevents Richard from accidentally incriminating himself as he is so eager to help the law enforcement officers whose ranks he aspires to join that he is willing to do just about anything they ask. Because of his eagerness to cooperate, the FBI take full advantage of him until he realizes what is going on. Finally, upon coming to his senses, the movie shows a heated exchange in an interrogation where Richard asks the officers if they have any evidence against him whatsoever and they are unable to answer. As a result, they have to drop the case, but Richard’s public persona is not out of the woods, even to this day. Some people still think he planted that bomb and treat him as a criminal instead of the hero he truly is. Overall, Richard Jewell is really well done and, regardless of whether or not it is 100% accurate, is an entertaining portrayal of a very interesting case in American history. It takes a traditional story of a person being wrongfully accused of a crime and adds the element of them helping their accusers, making for a really interesting twist.


ajayw is a junior in SMTD and Economics. It is his third year reviewing for art[seen]. As a music student, ajayw takes great interest in reviewing the music events on campus, especially those brought in by UMS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *