’71 (2014) Directed by Yann Demange. With Jack O’Connell, Sam Reid and Sean Harris.
71′ tells the story of Gary Hook, a young British soldier who finds himself abandoned on the hostile streets of Belfast during a time of intense sectarian conflict in 1971. Directed by Yann Demange and starring Jack O’Connell, the film is not only an effective thriller, it is also a stark portrait of a frightening time in the recent history of Northern Ireland.
After his fearsome performance in the prison drama Starred Up and now this, Jack O’Connell has quickly established himself as one of Britain’s most exciting young actors. In ’71, his performance once again feels honest and undiluted, showing measures of toughness and vulnerability as he fights for survival across a deadly suburban landscape, hunted by members of the IRA.
The film pulls no punches in its frank depictions of violence and suffering, with cinematography by Tat Radcliffe helping to emphasise a nightmarish world where order ceases to exist and the people live in a state of repression and fear. There is balance in the representation of the catholics and protestants, with innocents and good Samaritans on both sides. It is in the moments Gary shares with these characters that ’71 finds its heartbeat, fleetingly helping restore our faith in humanity amid a mire of hate.
Given the real-world conflict the film sets itself within, the events are charged above that of your average action-thriller. The sense of distrust between people is heightened by depictions of corruption and betrayal within the British Army – demonstrating that in any conflict, there are degrees of wrongdoing on both sides.
With some heart-pounding moments of suspense and a threatening atmosphere throughout, ‘71 is an impressive piece of work that captures the chaos and unrest of the period, while remaining resolute in its core ambition as an uncompromising action-thriller. 4/5
I was impressed with this film – keep meaning to get around to writing my own review on it. Top acting from Jack O’Connell too.
Hi Charley, thank you for commenting. O’Connell has impressed me. I hope he continues to work in these kind of down-to-earth films as opposed to the Hollywood stuff. I saw him in the 300 sequel and barely noticed him.
Agreed! I think his acting in Unbroken was also outstanding. He’s someone I like to refer to as ‘an old school’ actor, meaning he doesn’t need all the glitz and glamour to have an effect. For instance, he’s in a different league to Hollywood types like Toby Maguire and Shia LaBeouef (no offence to them)! Also keep an eye out for Joel Kinnaman – not quite as memorable as O’Connell but I think he has some good potential!
Well this certainly sounds like a gear shift from all my recent schlocky B-horrors.
Yes, I like to flit through the gears as often as possible. That said, there’s plenty of horror on show here.
Very nice review. I was very impressed with this film. Ridiculous suspense towards the end. Completely nerve-wracking.
Thank you, my friend. Yes, I’m with you there – it completely reeled me in and had me fearing the worst for the central character.
The scene in the bar with the little kid left me speechless!
Am really keen on checking this out.
Great review Gareth! Glad you enjoyed this one too.
Nice review! I absolutely loved this film and Jack O’Connell’s performance. I just love O’Connell in general to be fair haha.
Oh Matt recently watched this as well, and enjoyed it. I will have to check it out as I do like the kid.