'71 (99 mins)
Director: Yann Demange
Gary (Jack O’Connell) is a young British soldier who, on completion of his army training, finds himself on his first tour in Belfast in 1971. As part of a peacekeeping force supporting the RUC, their mission goes badly wrong during a stunningly well-staged street riot sequence, leaving Gary lost and alone in hostile streets. Not a political film but a heart-pounding thriller, ’71 is like a modern updating of the James Mason classic, Odd Man Out, with Gary on the run and trying to survive the night. It’s keen not to take sides, with good and bad in both loyalist and republican camps, though a strong anti-war streak runs through it. Unflinching in its violence, it triumphs through the immediacy of its action and, in what has been a top year for O’Connell, another compelling performance that cuts through sectarianism to focus on a young man fighting for his life.