Director: Yann Demange
Starring: Jack O' Connell, Sam Reid, and Sean Harris
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
’71 focuses on a young British soldier who is separated from his troop whilst working crowd control in Belfast. Gary Hook (Jack O’ Connell) is then faced with the task of evading those who want to kill him, whilst also deciding who he can trust to help him, in his journey back to the barracks.
2014 is being billed as the breakthrough year for Jack O’ Connell. Whilst he has had supporting roles in some notable productions, this year he is the lead in what are sure to be three critically acclaimed and awards-worthy films. Earlier this year he was in the prison drama Starred Up, he leads the show here in ’71, and at the end of the year is the lead in the Angelina Jolie directed Oscar favourite, Unbroken. However as somebody who has seen series three and four of Skins, I was introduced to the talents of Jack O’ Connell a long time ago, and along with another TV favourite of mine, Chris Pratt, it is a joy to see this actor finally get the widespread recognition and big-screen opportunities he deserves.
Jack O’ Connell is forced to give a physical and reactive performance in this film. His character, for better and for worse, is very much a blank slate. He doesn’t know much, he doesn’t trust anybody, and his sole purpose is to survive the night. However Jack O’ Connell has a very commanding presence, and creates a likable and believable character who we very much end up rooting for. Towards the film’s end Jack O’ Connell is also able to brilliantly convey in a few short moments the way in which this experience has changed the man.
The film is very much a simple, survival thriller and sidesteps political conversation. As some have rightfully pointed out, this is a film and a story that could take place in any conflict. However despite that potential for unspecific universality in regards to location, first-time film director Yann Demange very much has a sense of time and place. An incredibly hostile environment and evocative atmosphere is created, making us incredibly tense any time Gary ventures out of seemingly safe shelter. As mentioned earlier, Demange creates sequences, which wouldn’t be out of place in classic horror or action films, with the climax very much reminiscent of one-location thrillers such as Die Hard and Attack the Block.
Demange also makes you feel the human cost of conflict, with some very disturbing images, particularly regarding children, guaranteed to make some look away from the screen. For a debut feature, it is incredibly accomplished work from him, and on the evidence of the tension and brutality he creates here, I look forward to seeing what Demange does in the future.
Overall, ’71 is a great advert for both Jack O’ Connell and Yann Demange. However it is also a great exercise in building tension and portraying conflict, which directors with a lot more experience than Yann Demange ought to learn from. ’71 is a nail-biting, and rather brutal cinematic experience that for some will take them into an environment they hadn’t before explored or considered.
Summary: One of 2014’s best action and horror films. ’71 is a tense and thrilling calling card for Jack O’ Connell and Yann Demange.
Movie Parliament Rating: MAJORITY GOVENRMENT
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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