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’71

Jack O’Connell plays Private Gary Hook, who has just joined the British Army, and he and his platoon have been deployed suddenly to Belfast in 1971 as part of a peace keeping mission. Their zone of operation is right on the border of the Catholics and Protestants, and right away, the have to try to hold back a large group of protestors. In the confusion, a boy grabs the rifle of a downed soldier, and Hook and one other soldier run into the crowd to chase the boy. Hook finds himself alone in the war zone after having been left behind by his commanding officer. The film is about the night Hook spends trying to survive. This is a really intense, great movie with another wonderful performance by O’Connell. While you don’t learn a lot about the different characters, it is clear right away that there are two or three different factions who have an interest in getting Hook (dead or alive); I lost track of who the “good” and “bad” guys are. It is a true “white-knuckle” movie once the action starts. The directing and the camera work is superb. Bib thumbs up for a film that is emotionally, politically, and physically intense. After seeing this movie and “Starred Up”, I really want to see more films with Jack O’Connell in the lead.(2014; 4.5 stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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