This very potent film tells the disturbing true story of Richard Jewell (well played by Paul Walter Hauser); a simple trusting guileless authority revering security guard who instead of being recognized as a hero for saving many lives, was distressingly and wrongfully suspected of planting a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. This film frighteningly displays how one person can single-handedly ruin someone’s reputation based on careless supposition and reminds us of the dangers of assumptions (i.e. a thing that is accepted as true without proof). This picture shows how people who should rely only on evidence, namely law enforcement, can get it so wrong and how they mistakenly exploit their position to twist reality in order to meet their goals, even if it means crushing society’s most vulnerable. As respected psychologist/philosopher Abraham Maslow so eloquently stated, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” In my opinion the stand-out message of this movie is that it isn’t the law per se that protects you – it’s your lawyer – so you better have a good one! Being on the right side of the law isn’t always enough, and it’s sad to think that even the innocent need exceptional legal representation to fight the system. Protector vs. Persecutor – defenders save the defenseless from those who want to harm, harass, and tyrannize them. Let us all be discerning of the paramount importance of facts; those of which should always be revealed before rendering decisions that could carry detrimental effects.
Directed by the legendary actor/director Clint Eastwood this movie has a sound cast and is remarkable to watch. It makes viewers truly appreciate Pitbull lawyers who defend the weak. Audiences will really like Sam Rockwell as Jewell’s fabulous unshakeable lawyer (Watson Bryant in real life, was a real estate lawyer by trade not a defense attorney schooled in criminal law) who is such a super star in this movie. Rockwell lands the role of a tough-as-nails solicitor who knows the law well enough to try keeping his innocent naïve client from being railroaded into the death penalty by a group of hungry albeit legitimate rule-of-law FBI thugs (well played by John Hamm and others). Kathy Bates as Richard Jewell’s caring mother is so good in this role, she may even be nominated for an Oscar in the best supporting female actress category. As well Olivia Wilde does a very good job playing salacious Atlanta Journal-Constitution journalist Kathy Scruggs.
Subsequently, this film also underscores the significant difference between tabloid media and news media. To be precise, real journalists do their research whereas sensationalists just want a story, true or not, and may do anything to get it. So sad that once an erroneous rumor hits the airwaves the actual truth becomes secondary, and whether you committed the crime or not is irrelevant if everyone has already made up their minds that you did it. Take heed, as Proverbs states, “One falsehood spoils a thousand truths.” On this point, if you have ever doubted the enormous importance of good legal counsel this movie will most certainly convince you of it. What a difference it can make if even one commanding person believes you – and believes in you.
P.S. I know first-hand how crucial it is to have skilled attentive lawyers who have your back and make it their business to know the law. On this point, as a mum I was extremely proud to witness my own son graduate this past summer from law school in England and even prouder that he is continuing on with a Masters in International Law so that he too can defend the underdog and crusade for those who suffer human rights violations. One more closing aside, I have attended a number of Olympic events (my bestie Lisa is married to Canadian Paralympian/Paralympics Board Member & Order of Canada recipient Patrick Jarvis) including the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver Canada with my kids (Oje & Athena), and nephew Jordan, and the crowds are massive! The fact that Richard Jewell so diligently spotted the danger and bravely sheltered numerous people from it is extraordinary. Just saying.