Sunday, April 12, 2015

'71 (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Director Yann Demange (British TV's Dead Set) has a debut hit with "'71",  a film that uses the man-on-the-run-theme to great effect.

During the height of the Catholic /Protestant civil war in Ireland in 1971, British officer Gary Hook (Jack O' Connell) is sent to Belfast with a security force. In a tense standoff, pandemonium ensues. One officer is gunned down and Hook takes off running, literally, for his life.

Above all, the film captures a claustrophobic atmosphere, walls bend, constrict and expand. Hook is often cramped between a closed door and bullets, often taking refuge in an outhouse. His body transformed into a fetal capsule of panic.

The tiny huts and cement blocks seemingly laced with a dust of fear, toned in espresso brown.

Hook does not know who to trust.

A Protestant boy (Corey Mckinley)  sees him and becomes fascinated. Hook,  who has a younger brother realizes with a numbing horror that the youngster is becoming a hardened bloodthirsty warrior, scary beyond his years as he hunches his shoulders, entering a pub like a king tyke.

A cat and mouse game begins with each side going shady. Boyle (David Wilmot) is an IRA leader who oozes a deliberate menace one day, and an eerie diplomacy the next. There is also Sean (Barry Keoghan) a young man driven by hate.

At times events seem much like The Bourne franchise with a camera that has a perpetual case of the jitters during the action, but the nonstop suspense pulls us in.

Many times Officer Hook is within a hair's breath of doom. Passively with a slow and constant deliberation, he moves forward through gore, exposed bone and gunshots. Similar to a character in the films of Kubrick, he is too shocked to react as a peacekeeping soldier. The Irish cobblestones are grouted with blood. Most everyone is sneering two-faced and duplicitous with a gun barrel making the only point that people take seriously.

With its thick atmosphere and a yellow smoke that rivals the moodiness of William Friedkin, coupled with smarmy, sopping wet characters and action that never lets go, "'71" is a rapid fire concoction for thriller fans who like their suspense served with a chaser of history.

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