Adventures in Belfast
Having just gone through training rookie British soldier Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) finds himself being sent to Belfast with other rookies to act as part of a peace keeping force. But during their first mission lead by the inexperienced Lt. Armitage (Sam Reid) Gary ends up being left behind when the troops presence causes a riot. Stuck in a world which is alien to him and having no idea who he can and cannot trust he must find some way to make his way back to safety.
Over the years there have been many movies which have focused on people finding themselves on the wrong side to town late one night and having to find their way back, these have ranged from comedies such as "Adventures in babysitting" to action movies such as "Judgment Night". And to some extent that is what "'71" is, it is one of these adventure movies about a young British soldier stuck in Belfast at the height of the troubles and that is its USP as it is based on a real life situation, in fact I wouldn't be surprised if this behind enemy lines story was to some extent inspired by a true story.
But it is that real life setting which also provides "'71" with its twist on the norm because this isn't so much about what Gary does to get home but those who find themselves involved with him and how the word spreads putting anyone who helps him in danger. It means that whilst there is plenty of action there is also a thriller side to the story as the situation escalates and his odds of surviving become increasingly less.
The interesting thing about all of this is that whilst Jack O'Connell is the star on "#71" it is a team effort movie with the performances of all those involved making it a movie which you find yourself strangely drawn to. But in fairness to O'Connell he does a great job of not playing Gary as the over the top hero and gives him a nice layer of naivety and vulnerability.
What this all boils down to is that "'71" is in truth a variation on a familiar storyline using a real life setting to give its USP. And "'71" works but only if you watch not expecting it to be foot to the floor action as this is more of a drama than action movie.