Clint Eastwood’s ‘Richard Jewell’ Reveals An Appetite For Libertarian Entertainment

We’ve all seen filmmakers' cookie-cutter wokeness. 'Richard Jewell' shows us something new and relatable through an American libertarian lens — and audiences could use more of that.

I generally resent recommending art for political reasons. I believe art and beauty transcend ideology and should be judged on aesthetic merit first and foremost. In the case of “Richard Jewell,” however, the unusual point of view moves the film in a novel direction and makes it a compelling standout feature.

Director Clint Eastwood is an avowed libertarian, and “Richard Jewell” is probably the single most self-consciously libertarian film he’s ever made.

Of course, I don’t understand everything about Eastwood’s brand of libertarianism. His support of gun control, for instance, is a major departure from libertarianism. It’s also hard to take his 2012 Chrysler Super Bowl commercial as anything other than support for the Obama auto bailout, even if Eastwood claimed that’s not what he intended. Moreover, the actor/director has endorsed an array of big-government politicians in California. Gift Card i... Buy New $25.00 (as of 06:10 UTC - Details)

Still, ‘Richard Jewell’ Is a Libertarian Film

I am going to give Eastwood a pass on all of that, however, because his job isn’t to be consistent. His job is to create compelling cinema, and he delivers that, film after film.

“Richard Jewell” is probably not his strongest work. It leaves little room for suspense and is a bit predictable, in part because we all know the story: Security guard Richard Jewell find a suspicious backpack at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, which turns out to be a bomb that kills two people and injures more than 100. At first heralded as a hero, Jewell soon becomes the FBI’s primary suspect and the target of a media rampage.

It is exquisitely acted, however, with Eastwood’s minimalist directing style shining through. The characters Eastwood introduces are as familiar to the American psyche as they are unusual to meet onscreen: a hard-working and loving, if TV-addicted, single mom; a geeky, libertarian lawyer; an overweight, overzealous copper.

The cop is an interesting stage in the artistic trajectory of the director, whose iconic ’70s role was “Dirty Harry,” the out-of-bounds police officer pursuing rough justice in San Francisco, a city gone awry. My guess is that Eastwood feels more like the libertarian lawyer these days. Nonetheless, the cop he’s created with actor Paul Walter Hauser is highly sympathetic, if flawed.

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