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Film / '71

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'71 is a 2014 British historical drama thriller film directed by Yann Demange.

1971, during The Troubles. A platoon of British Army recruits is deployed to Belfast to assist the local police in maintaining security and combating the IRA. When a riot breaks out, Pvt. Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) is separated from his unit. Pursued by IRA gunmen, he quickly gets lost on the streets of Belfast. As he attempts to get back to his barracks, he becomes embroiled in the conflict between Nationalist and Unionist paramilitaries. He soon discovers that the difference between friend and foe is not as simple as the difference between Catholics and Protestants.

'71 contains examples of:

  • The Artful Dodger: The young boy that happens upon Hook and navigates him through the hostile streets of Belfast is an example. His precocity and ties to the Protestant paramilitaries make him a particularly bold little dude, scolding men twice his age when one makes the mistake of taking him lightly by naming his uncle (apparently a high level member in a paramilitary group).
  • After-Action Healing Drama: This happens in Eamon and Brigid's flat.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: When Lieutenant Armitage shoots Sean just after Sean had saved Gary.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Gary is one after he stabs Paul. He makes some attempt to comfort him as he bleeds out.
  • Baby Carriage: Gary knocks over a woman with a pram while he is fleeing from Paul and Sean.
  • Bad Guy Bar: The pub that the young boy leads Gary to is being used by Protestant paramilitaries to build bombs.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Gary survives and returns to England, but Captain Browning's escape from justice causes him to leave the army, and Sean is dead.
  • Bottomless Magazines: We never see a reload even during extensive running gunfights. Paul's Browning during his and Sean's chase of Pvt Hook is apparently capable of 24 shots.
  • The City Narrows: The army consider the Divis flats to be this.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Gary meets a young Protestant boy. When the boy realizes that Gary is a soldier, he offers to lead him back to his barracks.
    "Come on, I'll take you back to your barracks. It's up to you.. what else are you going to do?"
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Sergeant Lewis is strangling Gary, and Sean shoots him In the Back.
  • Double Tap:
  • The Dragon: Paul is this to Quinn.
  • Enemy Civil War: This is what is happening between the Official IRA and the newer Provisional IRA, or 'Provos'.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Captain Browning tells Brigid that he'll shoot her father, then her, if she does not tell him where Gary is.
  • Ensign Newbie: Lieutenant Armitage.
    "I'm Lieutenant Armitage, your platoon commander. I.. just wanted to meet the new boys.. I'm a bit of a new boy myself, actually, so..."
  • Evil Versus Evil: The OIRA, PIRA, the Catholic rioters, Unionist militias, the RUC and Military Intelligence agitators are all portrayed as extremely callous, corrupt, backstabbing thugs of varying culpability in the violence. Even the British Army only gets away with being merely naive, ineffective and amateurish.
  • Explosive Stupidity: This happens at the pub, presumably due to the poor construction or mishandling of the bomb.
    "They're as thick as fuck!"
  • Hair-Trigger Explosive: This appears to be the case with the bomb in the pub.
  • He Knows Too Much: Sergeant Lewis and Captain Browning decide this because Gary saw the bomb in the pub.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sean has one when Quinn orders him to execute Gary, although twice before he had hesitated when he had a chance to shoot him.
  • Heroic RRoD: Gary has one after he stumbles away from the explosion at the pub.
  • Hold the Line: This is the soldiers' job while the RUC search houses. Given the behavior and reputation of the police, it's not long before an angry mob is trying to push past the soldiers.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: In the climax, Quinn has Gary at gunpoint. He then orders Sean to kill him, probably due to Sean's earlier hesitation.
  • Imperial Storm Trooper Marksmanship Academy: In the initial chase scene, Paul shoots at Gary multiple times without hitting him. In a narrow passage.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • People in the mob throw rocks at the soldiers, giving one of them a serious head injury.
    • In the initial chase scene, Gary hits one of his pursuers with a metal rod.
  • Instant Death Stab: Gary stabs a guy in the gut with a survival knife, which in reality would cause excruciating pain but would not be immediately fatal, and would leave the victim plenty of capacity to scream, fight back, writhe in pain, etc. Instead he dies almost instantly, without a sound.
  • Karma Houdini: Neither Captain Browning nor Quinn are held accountable for their crimes.
  • Left Hanging: The film ends somewhat abruptly, with the plainclothes agitators performing a Karma Houdini after double-crossing the IRA by striking a deal with the PIRA, while an exceedingly shellshocked Hook takes his knowledge of the bomb in the pub back to England, where he drives into the sunset with his younger brother. This may have been deliberate.
  • New Meat: The platoon is barely out of training when they are activated and shipped to Belfast.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Closely averted.Eamon is nearly killed for helping Gary (twice).
  • No One Could Survive That!: Said by Sergeant Lewis, who assumes that Gary was killed in the explosion at the pub
  • Pinball Protagonist: Hook is one for most of the movie, spending most of the time reacting to people trying to kill him or relying on friendly locals.
  • Police Brutality: The RUC don't hesitate to beat people when they search houses for weapons, regardless of whether there actually are any.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: The West Belfast locals are already angry at the presence of the army, but the RUC's brutality during their search makes the crowd turn violent.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted when Thommo is shot in the head after he and Gary are separated from their unit.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: The young boy invokes this when someone speaks down to him, getting a quick apology despite his age. His uncle is a high-ranking member of a Protestant paramilitary group.
  • Sergeant Rock: The Corporal is this, particularly when compared to the naive and earnest Lieutenant Armitage.
    "You're not at the depot now, boys. You've got to look after yourselves. But don't worry, you'll only be staying here 'till one of the paddies shoots you anyway."
  • The '70s: Though not dominated by period detail as much as movies about this time period usually are.
  • Shaming the Mob: A woman comes to Gary and Thommo's defense during the riot.
    "Connor, you should be ashamed of yourself! These boys are young enough to be your sons!"
  • Spiritual Successor: To the 1947 film Odd Man Out, which was about an Irishman Trapped Behind Enemy Lines. This film changes the nationality and the time period, and is more of an action film, but has a similar trajectory and fatalism. Though unlike that film, the main character survives.
  • The Starscream: Quinn is this to Boyle.
  • Things Get Real: At first the soldiers don't seem to take their assignment seriously, and find it funny when the local children throw water balloons (filled with urine) at them. However, things soon get real when the mob turns violent.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Gary has one after the explosion at the pub, especially having seen the young boy's injuries.
  • Those Two Actors: Jack Lowden and Martin McCann also appear in Calibre (2018) together. In '71, McCann's character murders Lowden's character. In Calibre, the roles are reversed and Lowden murders McCann.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: The main plot of the movie for Gary.