I just saw “Richard Jewell” a film by Clint Eastwood based on the true story of the 1996 bombing of Centennial Olympic Park in 1996 and it was excellent.
The film stars Paul Walter Hauser as Richard Jewell, Kathy Bates, Sam Rockwell, Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde. The screenwriter on the film was Billy Ray.
“Richard Jewell” came out late last year (2019) during Oscars season as a biopic of the initial suspect of the Atlanta bombing that the FBI pegged as the perpetrator. Jewell was portrayed as both a loyal, over-zealous law enforcement officer working as a security guard during the nightly performances leading up to the Olympics.
He was also portrayed as “odd” in the way he responded when he was initially charged for the crime. He wasn’t adamant that he didn’t do it. He cooperated almost to his own detriment. It reminded me of Amanda Knox, who was arrested in the murder of her roommate despite no real evidence to convict her. She didn’t “act” the way a roommate would if her friend was murdered.
I think what the film highlights most is two things: the importance of always getting a lawyer first before talking to police if they think you are responsible for committing a crime, and then how the legal system is setup to “trap” people into confessing things unknowingly that they didn’t even commit. The police (the FBI in this case) will try to manipulate your words into admissions of guilt through tactics they are taught in the academy aimed at coercing a statement from someone they are convinced committed the crime based on their own confirmation bias.
Malcolm Gladwell spoke to this repeatedly in his new book, “Talking to Strangers.” He spoke to suspicion that is raised when someone falls outside of the “normal” response of an alleged perpetrator. Then the police fixates on the “fact” and a need to coax a conviction and the perpetrator is “railroaded” into a confession.
I thought the acting in the film was excellent. I loved how Eastwood portrayed both Jewell, the FBI, and even his lawyer played by Sam Rockwell. This was a movie that I would watch again as it really gets to the heart of what is wrong with the legal system and begs for a change to be made so that people are no longer wrongfully accused of something they did not do.
I think “Richard Jewell” is one of Clint Eastwood’s best and most important movies that he has ever done.