Having a gun does not mean you need to pull the trigger. Being at war with another country or fighting for your independence, does not mean you need to takes someone`s life. War is a proven example that it is never worth it. For Gary Hook (Jack O`Connell), there was no need to leave his beloved country to make him realize that nothing is worse than the deadly streets of Belfast in 1971- a country at war.
`71 begins with Gary Hook, a proud father who plays soccer with his young son. After having a delightful day with his son, Hook is advised about an upcoming mission to help control the emergency situation in Belfast, Northern Ireland caused by IRA terrorism. As soon as Gary`s troop is deployed to Belfast, an aggressive crowd meets them with stones in their hands. What happens next is truly dramatic, an out of control situation, that no one could have predicted.
The camera keeps moving to show us a bunch of truculent people, who with no hesitation, are willing to kill British soldiers. When a little boy steals his gun, Hook runs after him, not realizing that the next 24 hours will become a nightmare and a desperate desire to survive the night. However, Yann Demange, does not rush to show us how brutal and uncontrolled the crowd can be, but instead introduces a woman, who tries to stop the IRA terrorists from killing a young soldier.
`71 is without a doubt quite a dramatic directorial debut from Yann Demange, who captures well the plight of a British soldier who is accidentally abandoned and tries to find his way back to his unit. Even though we see Hook in a dangerous part of the country, where everyone dreams of killing a British soldier, he manages to find a little boy, who shows him mercy and tries to protect him from the IRA terrorists. Soon after, when one of the characters announces to Hook that ‘They do not care about you, to them, you are just a piece of meat’ – you come to understand that Hook needs a miracle in order to make it through the night.
`71 is a very dynamic, riveting, and realistic film about a soldier who is caught behind enemy lines. Jack O`Connell delivers an outstanding performance as a man, who, because of his big heart, and his desire to make his country a better place to live, ends up becoming like a mouse who tries to find a hole to hide from starving ‘cats’. It`s a very compelling story; a very well made film that will keep you thinking of war in general and its devastating effects that leaves a mark in the heart of so many people. Fortunately, `71 shows the other side of people as well, where not everyone behind enemy lines is the enemy, but instead are people who try to live their lives as best as they can without spilling their enemy`s blood.