’71 (2014)

Gary Hook is a soldier from Derbyshire who instead of being deployed to Germany is sent to Belfast, Northern Ireland at the start of the ‘troubles’. There his orientation consists of a quick look at a map with ‘Green’ (unsafe/Republican) and ‘Orange’ (safe/Loyalist) markings with advice to stay out of the Divis flats.

Hook (played by the impressive Jack O’Connell) is thrown quickly into a chaotic, disorientating environment when he supports RUC police searching for guns in a Republican neighbourhood near the Falls. The soldiers are ill-equipped in every way to deal with the hostility and violence that greets them from a civilian population. Hook is separated from his troop, wounded and a tense cat and mouse game involving the newly formed Provisionals, the Official IRA and military intelligence begins. Who will find him first and who is he safest with?

Gregory Burke who wrote the screenplay says of his film ’71:

“It’s like an apocalyptic world, and it’s on our back doorstep. We think we’re immune to these things when we watch them on the news,We have this veneer of civilisation, but these young lads had no idea where they were, and it was brutal.”

’71 shows us a violent time where you can never be sure who is on which side – let alone who the ‘good’ guys are. Perhaps there weren’t any, though Sean Bannon, a young Provo (pleayed by Barry Keoghan) comes closest.

This is a nail-biting film with real suspense and a writer who understands the political nuances and recreates an authentic cultural and geographic setting. This isn’t just one for the politicos as it works on many levels not least as a human drama. Go see it!

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

Director: Yann Demange
Writer: Gregory Burke (screenplay)
Stars: Jack O’Connell, Sam Reid, Sean Harris
Certificate: 15
Release date: 10 Ocotober 2014 (UK)
Runtime: 99min

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