Living in Northern Ireland myself I am only too aware of the issues politically that this country has experienced in the past and today. The period of time that this film is set it I have studied at school in history so it would seem that I was almost obliged to see this movie. Personally the political side of things doesn’t interest me too much and I was happy to see that ’71 seemed to be a more ‘survival – style’ film than focusing on politics.
’71 certainly does have these elements of a survival story, and tension is built brilliantly once Jack O’Connell’s character, Hook, is separated from his unit after a street riot. It was quite something how they managed to bring such a sense of fear to the situation, one that maybe initially doesn’t seem so bad but once you think about it you begin to realise just how much danger this character is in. However despite this wonderful tension that is apparent at the beginning of the film after this the picture does experience some pacing problems. Some shots just went on for far too long, the length of these were just unnecessary. Although the pacing was an issue the moments in between these, of tension and suspense, were wonderful. The highlight would have to be a scene nearer to the end of the film where you are genuinely unsure if one character is going to shoot another or not. I thought this scene was done so well and was an example of how to use the length of a shot in the correct way. I genuinely had no idea what the outcome was going to be and that is exactly what I want to feel like when watching a film like this.
Like most films surrounding this area of history a working knowledge of Northern Irish politics is going to be useful. There was so much chopping and changing of characters that at times I did become confused, a little clarity regarding some characters would have helped. This issue won’t detract from your viewing but the having the knowledge I have mentioned will most certainly enhance your experience of ’71. Whilst I don’t think this film is quite as tense or suspense filled as some are making it out to be something that I can agree on is just how well Jack O’Connell performs in this role. He is so effortlessly believable in this role and his demonstrates a variety of emotions seamlessly bringing his character to life without a shadow of a doubt. Another strength of his performance is how easy O’Connell makes it for the viewer to like this character, we immediately sympathise with him and we are willing him to survive.
71′ is another success in terms of Jack O’Connell’s career and it certainly has its moments as the action/war film that it is trying to be however it does suffer badly from issues of pacing. This is unfortunate because it holds the film back from really becoming something great. Most definitely worth a watch though and one of the better films I have seen regarding this period of history.
BIGGEST FLAW – Pacing
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT – Jack O’Connell’s performance
Rating – 7.5/10