Saturday, February 6, 2016

Movie Review: '71 (2014)

Movie: '71 (2014)

Director: Yann Demange

Writer: Gregory Burke

Cast: Jack O'Connell, Sam Reid, Sean Harris, Babou Ceesay, Paul Anderson, Barry Keoghan, Killian Scott, Martin McCann, Liam McMahon, David Wilmont, Charlie Murphy, Richard Dormer, & Corey McKinley.

One-Line Plot Synopsis: A young British soldier (O'Connell) is separated from his fellow troops in 1971 Belfast and must survive on his own in order to get back to his barracks. 

I'm not going to act like I'm an expert on the 1971 conflicts of Belfast or anything but will I will say, is that I really enjoy war movies portraying wars, battles, and conflicts in foreign places, most notably Europe.  I don't know if it's the accents or the unfamiliarity with the situations that are occurring that ropes me in, I just know that I thoroughly enjoy war movies set in basically any part of Europe.  

Now, I'm not talking about movies based on World Wars.  I'm talking about the Irish Civil War, the Wars of the Roses in England, the Hungarian Revolution and things of that nature.  That stuff just really interests me for some reason.

The movie '71 isn't so much a battle or a war as much as it is a story of civil unrest in Belfast through riots and conflict.  The movie follows a young and green British soldier named Gary Hook (O'Connell) who is accidentally stranded by his unit when they respond to a potential riot in development.  It's a story I was unfamiliar with but the claustrophobic nature of the situation and overall panic is captured extremely well by the director, Yann Damange.

I was unfamiliar with the majority of the cast but was pretty impressed across the board.  The lead actor, O'Connell, I recognized from the trailers for Unbroken that were playing non-stop for about a month or so, but other than that, the film was filled out with foreign actors that I just haven't had a chance to become that familiar with.  It's a very deep cast as the movie keeps turning from one place to the next as the stranded soldier, Hook, searches for a his unit while also trying to duck the rioters who know that there's a soldier on the run in their territory. 

On a side note, the little kid who plays the young loyalist boy, Corey McKinley is fucking top notch.  I can see a really bright future for that kid, he's one hell of a scene stealer every time he's on the screen.  Keep an eye out for that dude.  This was his movie debut but based on how incredibly electric he was on the screen, I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot more of him very quickly.

I enjoyed the movie very much in its quick 99 minute run time and although the run time is pretty short, you feel like Hook can't find sanctuary for such a long time.  That's a tribute to both the direction (in Demange's directorial debut) and acting.  Well done everyone.

Rating: 7/10