This is the first of two films about 1971 we’re expecting this month, and this one is about an English soldier trapped behind enemy lines in Northern Ireland. Jack O’Connell, whom we just recently saw play an all-American hero in Unbroken, plays a single dad/new English soldier whose first mission is a home raid in Belfast.
A weak commanding officer emboldens angry Catholic rioters and before you know it, our hero has been left behind when the rest of his unit flees the chaos.
What ensues is a representative of what you might call the “survival night” genre, like The Warriors or Escape from New York. Jack (Gary, in the movie) has to sneak through the darkness, trying to suss out friends from enemies, and find a way back to his unit before the various interests kidnap and/or kill him.
We liked it, but not that much. Expectations were rather high going in: It had a 99% critic RT score; literally one critic did not like it. (It’s up to two, now.) On top of that, this is the sort of thing we generally like, The Boy in particular.
But it’s just okay. Even good. Nowhere near great. Even allowing for the fact that, with the Irish accents, every now and again you’d pray for subtitles. The character development is good, but the action is sort of flat. Frosh director Yann Demange seems more comfortable with the former than the latter.
The ending is too long, but it is, I suspect, why the critics loved it. It’s a movie about white terrorists where the English are villainous.
I wouldn’t discourage people from seeing it, but I’d only recommend it reservedly.