’71, the film debut of French television director Yann Demange, moves at an electric pace like an update of Carol Reed’s Odd Man Out (1947), in which James Mason played a wounded IRA bank robber struggling to remain alive with the police after him in a Belfast-like city. In ’71, Jack O’Connell is an English soldier, who finds himself abandoned after a house raid for weapons goes wrong, and has no idea where to turn in the rabbit warren of alleyways in a part of Belfast that is Catholic and anti-English. The plot sounds straightforward, but there’s a parallel story, which is far more sinister and complex involving political expediencies and double crosses on both sides.
The Hurt Locker (2009). In fact, this may be a sub-genre in itself, starting with Bloody Sunday (2002), of the slashing naturalistic re-enactment of recent historical conflict. The realistic acting, authentic because none of these actors would ever be featured in an American movie – even an Oscar contender. They look like people walking the streets of Belfast that might shake hands or shoot you.