Richard Jewell’s inability to offer women in any medium other than to cry or look good is painstakingly outdated
Upon the release of every new Clint Eastwood-directed picture, the film is seen by many as his last. Creating features at an alarming rate, especially for someone of his age, there is still room in his repertoire to form and direct financially successful features. However, that doesn’t guarantee a progressive or entertaining film, in fact the case is often the opposite, and Richard Jewell is no different.
During a bomb scare at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) is pronounced a hero for saving multiple lives when spotting the unattended backpack. However, after the FBI struggle to find anyone responsible, the focus turns to Jewell, with the media painting him as the sole, and therefore prime, suspect.
The most irritating element of Eastwood’s work is his treatment of women. It’s essentially a given at this point, and Richard Jewell’s inability to offer women in any medium other than to cry or look good is painstakingly outdated, leaving the heavy lifting to the male leads, offering them all substance and conversation. Both Olivia Wilde and Kathy Bates are left as filler, rather than supplying a female aspect to a story in which their characters would have been perfectly apt. Neither is a sub-standard actor, and deserved more from a film that could have offered it. The annoyance isn’t as fore frontal as the objectification that came with 2017’s The Mule was, but that’s purely because it isn’t thrown at the camera like a bag of lingerie. Instead, Eastwood purely decides to waste their ability.
Naturally there are positives; Eastwood knows how to make a feature film, and Hauer‘s move to drama from comedy is a smooth one, once again matching the ideal that great comedy actors make great drama actors. His commitment to creating Jewell in a realistic manner is particularly enlightening, and bounces well from Sam Rockwell’s lawyer Watson Bryant. Yet, these key impressives aren’t strong enough to outweigh the weakness that comes readily with Eastwood’s outdated style of film making.
The story often drops from tense to unexciting, appearing more introspective than needed. It should be a piece about a terror incident and the post-event media meltdown that came with it; not how American’s even turn on their own, however American they actually are.
Richard Jewell missed the mark in multiple sectors, and however likely this is to be Eastwood’s last film, it’s almost a guarantee that any future films won’t be anymore progressive than this anyway.