There have been many films about “The Troubles” over the years. Some of the most famous are In the Name of the Father, Hunger, Bloody Sunday and The Crying Game. Whilst ’71 is set in Belfast in 1971 (unsurprisingly), it’s more of a straight thriller/action movie than one which has much to say about the religious divide and deeper conflict in Northern Ireland. Yann Demange’s film carries an air of cynicism throughout, and continues the impressive film career of Skins’ Jack O’Connell.
Gary Hook (O’Connell) is a new recruit to the British Army. When his regiment is sent to Belfast they are fresh out of training. On a routine mission to support a RUC house search, Gary is separated and lost in the hostile streets. After being lead to a Loyalist pub by a boy he witnesses one of the plain clothed intelligence operatives based in their barracks seemingly helping to build a bomb. When things go horribly wrong he is rescued by a Catholic former medic Eamon (Richard Dormer). Eamon saves his life but has to call Paramilitary leader Boyle (David Wilmot) to get him out of there and back to barracks. However, there are younger members of the IRA (led by Quinn) who are after the soldier and Boyle.
What works so well in this taut British thriller is Demange’s ability to keep the tension high throughout. The script is cleverly written, telling the story from several viewpoints, which allows the story to flow and brings you in to the unfolding intrigue. The Falls Road looks every inch of a war zone and the atmosphere in Belfast at the time is recreated brilliantly. The pub scene is scarily realistic and this authenticity continues throughout ’71. There’s also some of the blackest humour you’re likely to see in the cinema this year. ’71 is a stunning film which delivery on action, intrigue and entertainment.
’71 is in cinemas now.