LIKE a grizzled old sheriff with a town to protect, Clint Eastwood is still shooting from the hip at 89.
This time, the director has both the FBI and the media in his line of fire as he tells the true story of a hero security worker wrongly accused of being a terrorist.
Richard Jewell might not be known in Britain, but in the US he was famous for saving lives by discovering an explosive backpack filled with nails at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Initially hailed for moving the crowd away, Jewell was later hounded by the press when the FBI revealed he was its No1 suspect for the crime.
Eastwood’s aim is true when depicting Jewell as a thoughtful man whose good nature was taken advantage of.
Paul Walter Hauser is brilliant in the role, as is the rightly Oscar-nominated Kathy Bates as his overwrought mum, Bobi.
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But in his effort to defend Jewell’s honour, Eastwood’s angry script wounds the reputation of investigative reporter Kathy Scruggs by falsely suggesting she used sexual favours to get her scoop. His portrayal of the other baddie, Jon Hamm as FBI agent Tom Shaw, is equally cartoonish and hard to believe.
It’s an ugly approach that badly sours what could have been a really good movie.