'71

'71

(2014)

Jack O’Connell (Starred Up) leads this war drama as a young British soldier, left in a daze when his unit accidentally abandons him on the hectic streets of Belfast at the height of the Troubles. Co-stars Sam Reid (Belle), Sean Harris (Prometheus) and Charlie Murphy (Philomena). Winner of Best Director at the 2014 British Independent Film Awards.... More

"1971, and the conflict in Northern Ireland is escalating towards civil war. Young English recruit Gary is called into action in Belfast. The situation in the city is confusing and challenging – even for experienced military commanders. The town is divided into ‘loyal’ Protestant and ‘hostile’ Catholic areas. Both parties have paramilitary units; in addition, radical street gangs and undercover agents from all sides are trying to assert their interests on their own initiative.

"During a patrol, the soldiers become embroiled in a scuffle and one of them loses their weapon. Gary and a fellow soldier follow the thief who disappears into the crowd. Suddenly Gary is having to fend for himself alone in the midst of enemy territory. His journey back to his base that night is an odyssey filled with uncertainty, fear and desperation." (Berlin Film Festival)Hide

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Flicks Review

Over the past few years, Jack O'Connell has proved himself one of Britain's most unnerving screen presences. From a teenage thug-in-the-making in Shane Meadows' This Is England, to the banal face of preening, petrifying evil in hoodie horror Eden Lake, to an institutionalised killer in prison drama Starred Up, he's cornered the market in sneering psychopaths.... More

Yann Demange's debut, a pulse-quickening survival thriller, marks a breakthrough for both actor and director. Frankly, it's a relief to see something where O'Connell's not the main agent of mischief, although he still manages to kick up sparks while the pyrotechnics explode around him.

Set during the Northern Irish Troubles, '71 plonks O’Connell’s British army recruit, alone and broken, in the middle of war-torn Belfast when a routine patrol goes horribly (but, you imagine, routinely) wrong. The in-fighting provides a turbulent backdrop to Gary's plight, as he's helped and hindered by Catholics and Protestants (including mini O'Connell-in-the-making Corey McKinley) trapped in a conflict he doesn't even begin to comprehend. Viewers might feel the same, but whenever things get too muddled, reptilian military intelligence agent Sean Harris is on hand to remind us who the real bad guys are.

Reducing political debate to the mechanics of genre cinema could have been dangerous, but Gregory Burke’s script is sensitive to all sides even as it races to the next setpiece and Demange shows a real flair for sudden, surging action. As for O’Connell: keep your eyes on this guy. As if you could look away.Hide


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The Press Reviews

97% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • The complex choreography... is a thing of joy. Full Review

  • This outstanding, muscular feature debut for French-born, British-based director Yann Demange almost never puts a foot wrong... Full Review

  • A vivid, shivery survival thriller that turns the red-brick residential streets of Belfast into a war zone of unconscionable peril. Full Review

  • A master class in structure, a meticulously constructed period piece, a powerful anti-war film, and rarest of all, a thriller whose tension and suspense feel genuinely earned. Full Review

  • A brutal army thriller that feels like the truth, thanks to take-no-prisoners storytelling and a tell-no-lies performance from Jack O’Connell. Full Review

  • This is a tense, gripping thriller that combines real-world relevance with high-concept entertainment. In a superb ensemble, O’Connell is outstanding Full Review

  • It's a film that holds you in a vice-like grip throughout; only wavering towards the end with a faintly preposterous climactic shootout. Full Review

  • Demange is a strong storyteller and masks the script’s tendency to nod to every opinion and social division by offering a masterclass in tension as soon as his dramatic bomb starts ticking. Full Review

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