Title – ’71 (2014)
Director – Yann Demange (feature debut)
Cast – Jack O’Connell, Sean Harris, Sam Reid
Plot – Young British solider Gary Hook (O’Connell) is left fending for himself on the violent streets of Belfast in 1971 after his regiment is set upon by a mob of violent locals. Gary soon finds out that it’s not only the locals that want him dead and he must find a way to survive the night and reach freedom.
“The situation is confused, to say the least”
Review by Eddie on 23/11/2015
One of Britain’s most promising young actors Jack O’Connell certainly had a productive 2014. From his breakthrough turn in the brilliant prison drama Starred Up through to his Hollywood calling card Unbroken, O’Connell has set himself up as one of the stars to watch with his rare ability to possess all of the charms, smarts and energy needed to be one of the industry’s biggest leading man.
2014 was also the year O’Connell’s most low key yet still critically lauded film ’71 appeared on screens and while it’s a film that once more showcases significant big screen chops by O’Connell, it’s a film that despite a simple yet intriguing concept can’t reach any great heights due to the films initial pace and set up slowly dwindling away into a generic and uninvolving thriller.
Directed by another rising star of the industry and once more a Brit in the form of Yann Demange, ’71 certainly possesses some frenetic and original energy from behind the camera and if nothing else suggests that Demange could do something quite special with a bigger budget and a more focussed narrative. Demange thrusts the audience straight into his picture with a quick fire training montage of British soldiers and before long things have gone to hell for O’Connell’s Gary Hook when his regiment gets attacked in the violent streets of the warring city of Belfast and his left wondering the streets trying to survive.
It’s a simple almost 80’s like plot (calling to mind films like Rambo and Escape from New York) but while it all seems set to be a pulse pounding thriller that wizzes by time wise, ’71 quickly stumbles in its middle act and with too many side characters and not enough focus on who or what drives Gary, the film eventually becomes an uninteresting one that culminates in some over the top dramatics that undo much of the films more no fuss wins.
’71 has some great singular moments (an explosive bar scene in particular), it’s another feather in the cap of Jack O’Connell and shows promise from young director Demange, but as a critically loved film watched now a few months after the dust has settled, one can’t help but feel ’71 wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and upon reflection, could’ve been something a whole lot more memorable had its story taken the right paths.
2 ½ eventful trips to the local watering hole out of 5