Clint Eastwood’s take of “Richard Jewell”
Updated: Feb 14, 2021
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
The media frenzy surrounds security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) as he arrives home after his first interview with the FBI.
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4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; R for language including some sexual references and brief bloody images; Streaming via Amazon Prime Video, Apple (4K), FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play (4K), Movies Anywhere (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: Making of featurette with cast and crew interviews
IN LATE November, Clint Eastwood’s 38th film premiered at the American Film Institute’s Festival in Hollywood. It received a wave of positive reviews and launch an Oscar buzz. Some considered “Richard Jewell” his best film in over a decade as the director/producer neared his 90th birthday.
The film focused on security guard Richard Jewell played by Paul Walter Hauser ("BlacKkKlansman"), who discovers a backpack loaded with three large pipe bombs under a bench at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park during a nighttime concert for the ‘96 Games. His action saved hundreds of lives and by the next morning he was crowned a hero by the media including Katie Couric of NBC’s “Today Show.”
Within three days it was over. Once a hero and now a suspect. Atlanta Journal-Constitution cop reporter Kathy Scruggs played by Olivia Wilde, was told by the FBI and other law-enforcement sources that their target was Jewell. “He fits the profile of the hero-bomber to a T,” says FBI Agent Tom Shaw during the film, played by Jon Hamm. The newspaper published the story in the afternoon edition, and CNN quoted the story verbatim, as Jewell became the unthinkable outlaw.
(1) Richard Jewell meets attorney Watson Bryant while working as the supply room clerk for the U.S. Small Business Administration, as they enjoy playing video games during their lunch hour. (2) Richard eventually becomes a security guard at Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia, but he ends up getting fired by the Dean of the college for excess use of power. (3) Richard and his best friend Dave Dutchess (Niko Nicotera) hit the firing range for target practice.
“All hell broke loose. I mean telephones just kept ringing and ringing. And the news media took over. I think at one time, there were 200 reporters, television cameras,” says Richard's mother, 83-year-old Bobi Jewell during one of the two featurettes. Kathy Bates plays Bobi Jewell and received an Oscar nomination for her performance.
After the movie premiered the Atlanta newspaper editor-in-chief Kevin Riley insisted the film got vital facts wrong, especially how the script implied Scruggs got the information for an exchange of sex. Oscar-winning screenwriter Billy Ray based his script on Marie Brenner’s article that first published in Vanity Fair.
As quickly as the media turned on Jewell in 1996, a number of journalists turned on the film. L.A. Times political reporter Melissa Gomez said, “Hollywood has, for a long time, portrayed female journalists as sleeping with sources to do their job. It’s so deeply wrong.” And, Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers said, “The attempt to slut-shame a reporter who’s not around to defend herself stands as a black mark in a film that otherwise hews close to the proven facts of the case.” Wide said on Twitter, “I don’t believe Kathy traded sex for tips… it was never my intention to suggest she had.” Ray defended his work in a Vanity Fair article, saying the AJC seems to focus on "one single minute in the movie that’s 129 minutes long.”
So, when “Richard Jewell” hit theaters in December the box-office returns were disappointing at best. It only made $22 million stateside and $21 million internationally.
Overall “Richard Jewell” received modest praise from top critics with a 70 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while audiences gave it super marks at 95 percent. The film is quite emotional and funny at times, with a powerful message of overreaching journalism and shoddy crime investigating from the FBI. To this day its taught as a “cautionary tale” in journalism schools, says Julie Miller in her December article for Vanity Fair. And, no doubt it gets the same warning at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
(1) The Jack Mack Band performs at Centennial Olympic Park. (2) Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) and Ron Martz (David Shae) are assigned to cover the Centennial Park concerts. (3&4) Richard discovers a suspicious bag under a park bench near the communications tower, while he and other authorities start to move the crowd back as a member of the Atlanta bomb squad finds three large pipe bombs inside.
Highlights from the “Making of” featurette
Director/producer Clint Eastwood
“I read the article, then the script. This guy did a heroic deed, but he ends up getting blamed for the actual crimes. It was a great American screw over.”
Producer Tim Moore
“When you said Richard Jewell, the people didn’t say “the hero. They remember him as the bomber. And he wasn’t the bomber. And that’s what the whole story’s about, and what really Clint wants to get across.”
Actor Jon Hamm – FBI agent Tom Shaw
“We had a lot of questions for Clint. “Why did you want to make this movie? Want do you think it’s telling about American culture in 2019?
“It shows with just a small amount of information it can turn into a nightmare.”
Producer Jessica Meier
“I haven’t heard him talk about a movie like this in a long time, where he wanted to do it so badly.”
“I just kind of went after it. It did happen. It could happen again. It could happen to anybody. I just wanted the real victim to get some sort of relief that truth is put out there.”
Actor Paul Walter Hauser – Richard Jewell
“I wanted to do this because it was a Clint Eastwood movie. I grew up watching him, and I’ve always wanted to work with him.”
Actress Kathy Bates – Bobi Jewell
“When I heard he’s going to do this and he wanted me for this part, I just flipped.”
(1-3) 1:25 a.m. July 27, 1996, three pipe bombs filled with 40-pounds of nails exploded and killed two and injured more than 100.
Doing a true story is such an honor. It’s important to just capture the aura of someone and what they’re after. So, I had to kind of mute my own presuppositions and feelings, and really turn on my “good old boy” in the film.”
“When you play someone who’s a real person, you really get a glimpse of their life.”
Actress Olivia Wilde – Journalist Kathy Scruggs
“It was a devastating event for them. But it’s also a story of incredible courage.”
Actor Sam Rockwell – Attorney Watson Bryant
Whenever you’re dealing with an actor-director, you immediately get a lot of compassion from them. He’s really, like trustworthy with you.”
Co-producer/1st assistant director David M. Bernstein
“It’s like playing jazz. Yes, there’s a script and there’s dialogue, but he [Eastwood] lets it go a little longer to see who’s going to do something special or different or something that going to make a scene.”
Camera operator Steven S. Campanelli
“All of us have studied hundreds of hours of footage of the real event. I wanted to recreate it exactly. Especially the footage outside of Bobi Jewell’s. This crazy handheld footage. Put the audience right in the middle of the crowd. You’re in that mess, and it’s horrifying.”
“He [Eastwood] really wanted to shoot exactly where it happened. And that’s what we did. We actually shot at Bobi Jewell’s apartment complex for all of the exteriors.
(1) By morning Tim Barker (Billy Slaughter) from AT&T Media Relations had lined up an interview for Richard Jewell with Katie Couric of NBC’s “Today Show.” (2) Richard's mother Bobi Jewell watches with pride. (3) Within three days Richard Jewell was a prime suspect as "The False Hero." FBI agent Tom Shaw tips AJC reporter Kathy Scruggs with the information. (4) The next day she and Martz co-write the story that's published with big headlines on-page one. The news sends Richard Jewell's world upside down.
Supervising location manager Patrick O. Mignano
Centennial Park is the focal point of the film, where all of the drama begins, and it’s a very important character in the film.”
“Filming in Centennial Park has been quite a challenge. We came up with a plan of, Okay the stage will go here. This is what we want to do. We came up with the dates. But then the hard part was how do we build all of this?”
Original Centennial Park coordinator Rebekah Jones
“I got a phone call. They said that they were working on this project, and they needed some help to be able to recreate a smaller scale of the AT&T stage. Based on its design, it’s a little bit more of a rock and roll application than it would be a scenic application. So, we got a team together and went through the drawings. Made a couple of revisions, came up with a schedule, and then put the thing in.”
“When I got down there, it was a park, it was the exact same, and it was almost the exact same positions.”
“Because of the set design and the exactment of everything, everyone, from the crew to the background actors to myself, we were all feeling those sort of eerie vibes. To watch people duck down and scream and cry out and drag their loved ones off the grass, covered in blood. It was just so harrowing.”
“A lot of the background [600 actors] were there at the time. They knew the history, and so many people would come up to Clint and hand him little things and say, ‘This was a badge, or this was a hat I had.’ They were so generous. They were very excited about us filming there.”
Watson Bryant – Richard Jewell’s lawyer
“If Richard didn’t find that bomb there would have been people sitting on the bench. They would have been blown to bits when this thing went off.”
“He should’ve been touted as a hero. He saved a lot of people’s lives.”
“The unfortunate side of it was that the guy’s life was completely ruined because he was tried in the court of public opinion and summarily found guilty.”
(1) The FBI investigation pointed to only one suspect - Richard Jewell. (2) FBI agents Shaw and Bennett trick Jewell to come to the Atlanta headquarters, so he could help them with a training video. (3) Richard finally realizes he needs an attorney and calls Watson Bryant. (4) Bobi watches several hundred media surround her son and Watson Bryant. (5) Bobi and Richard hunker down in their apartment.
Eastwood and French Canadian cinematographer Yves Bélanger (“The Mule”) captured the drama with strong compositions with 3.4K ARRIRAW cameras and then those digital frames (2.39:1 aspect ratio) were perfectly mastered in 4K. It’s the same striking combination cinematographer Roger Deakins used for his Oscar-nominated work in “Sicario.” Even though there’s a slight upconversion, Warner Bros. digital 4K presentation with Dolby Vision is superior to the lower resolution physical Blu-ray disc. That’s a major disappointment for physical disc lovers who crave for the best quality possible, knowing the streaming world continues to get nearly every single movie released in 4K with HDR.
The numerous wide shots are the dead giveaway for the bonus resolution, and a striking medium shot of Bobi Jewell watching her son on the “Today Show” as the camera captures small dust particles floating within the bright window light. The color palette from HDR10 and Dolby Vision are nearly identical to the color hues found on the HD version. While the contrast levels are much brighter in the highlights and the shadows are slightly darker and more defined on the 4K.
“Richard Jewell” is the third major 4K exclusive release on digital this month (“Little Women” and “A Hidden Life”) that was mastered in 4K.
The Blu-ray is coded with the uncompressed six-channel DTS-HD soundtrack while the digital version is set up with Dolby Digital Plus. The bass response was very similar during the bomb explosion, but overall both audio formats are expectable with the dialogue-driven story. The music score from Latin jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is light and minimal.
(1) Richard takes a polygraph test to prove his innocence. (2) Reporter Kathy Scruggs double-checks the time-line between the anonymous 911 phone call warning that a bomb would explode and times placing Richard Jewell at the park. (3) Bobi Jewell pleads with President Bill Clinton to end this nightmare and "clear my son's name." (4&5) The FBI and Richard Jewell have their final meeting.
(1) 88 days after the Atlanta bombing Richard Jewell and his attorney Watson Bryant received a letter from U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Kent B. Alexander, that stated Jewell was no longer a target of the federal criminal investigation. Richard is overcome with emotion while he and Watson have lunch.