’71 (PG) ****


'71War can be hell. Watch things heat up big time in ’71. Away from the world’s current conflict with radical Islamist inspired terrorists religion also played a central role in the troubled region of Ireland back in the 60s and 70s. Thanks to ’71 we bear witness to the carnage faced by locals and the British in a death-defying struggle. Live through the chaos at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas and select Cineplex Odeon cinemas in this effective drama from Elevation Pictures and Rock-it promotions.

Naivety goes out the window in a flash when a freshly minted group of raw rookie British troops gets sent into Belfast. Nerves get shattered as a simple riot control operation goes terrible, terribly wrong. Left behind enemy lines in this city on edge is one rather unlucky English soldier.

Clueless in hostile territory without a friend in the world is Gary Hook. Impressive new actor Jack O’Connell ( Unbroken) rises to the challenge as all sorts of fractions seem to be out to get him. Above all else it’s atmosphere and tension that matters most to make this movie work and director Yann Demange succeeds here on all fronts.

Not knowing what will come next and a long list of conniving conspirators turn ’71 into an exciting and gripping tale of survival. So real does this movie feel with its hand held camera work through the streets of somber Belfast you’ll feel your experiencing a first hand account of the madness, gravity and desperate reckoning of the locals in this deadly game of cat and mouse survival and vengeance.

By Robert Waldman