'71 Movie Review
A young British soldier is trapped behind enemy lines in Belfast in '71, a unique and suspenseful war thriller that defies convention by keeping events in a place where it's impossible to recognize friend from foe.
At a brisk 99 minutes in length, '71 moves at a quick pace, pushing the lead protagonist (played by Jack O'Connell) through training camp and the events that lead to him racing through the streets of Belfast in rapid succession. Director Yann Demange, working from a script by Gregory Burke, paints a bleak picture of Northern Ireland and presents his film through a beautifully gritty aesthetic.
O'Connell is terrific in the lead, a far cry from the unimpressive performance he gave in Angelina Jolie's disappointing war drama Unbroken last year. O'Connell fires on all cylinders, balancing the role of a fragile rookie who is desperate to survive at any cost with unlikely action hero.
As good as it is, '71 isn't the amazing war thriller some people make it out to be. With good acting, writing and directing, it has all the right ingredients, but the movie gets a little choppy, a little inconsistent, in the middle section. The action comes to a halt one or two too many times, keeping '71 from being the true visceral experience it could have been.
Still, '71 is a well-executed war thriller that is certainly worth watching.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.