'71 - Online Review

'not only a Thriller, but an insightful look at the situation in Northern Ireland, as it was during that year. No-one escapes a level of questioning and certainly few are innocent'

The occasionally tense '71 is a well-managed urban Thriller with a level of bite, which yet again gives Jack O'Connell something promising to do and then doesn't quite fulfil its remit to the full. Director Yann Demange presents a film which is occasionally tight, and certainly has a level of difference compared to other films about The Troubles, but then doesn't quite see them through without a level of drop-off, nor of bumping along in the vicinity of some clich├ęs.

The good mainly happens during the film's opening where young squaddie Hook (O'Connell) is abandoned to the wilds of 1971 Belfast when his unit comes under attack. As a variety of superiors flounder, Hook tries to side with the sympathetic Protestants and avoid the anti-British Catholics. Things get complicated when a young Protestant (Corey McKinley) takes him to his Uncle's pub.

Up to and including the pub, pretty much everything Demange does is impressive. An overly cutesy background story involving what appears to be Hook's younger brother isn't necessary, but the initial deployment feels real and Hook's abandonment suitably chaotic. The pub scenes neatly and devastatingly introduce an attractive level of complication to the plotting. At this point '71 starts to also live up to its title: this is not only a Thriller, but an insightful look at the situation in Northern Ireland, as it was during that year. No-one escapes a level of questioning and certainly few are innocent of contributing to the problems.

As the film develops though, the newly introduced plot threads start to detract from Hook. Slowly the tension dissipates, and Sean Harris' (now in serious danger of being seriously typecast) dodgy intelligence officer starts to take on the role of too-overt villain, as does Lewis (Paul Anderson). Hook, who previously seemed to survive on a mixture of his wills and luck, slowly starts to survive on coincidence, whilst those genuinely interested in his rescue get steadily dafter.

It's still a good film, with a new take on The Troubles and several patches of very good work, but Demange is a first time feature director and the consistency is not altogether there yet.




'71 was streaming on BlinkBox.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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