Ryne Walley’s review published on Letterboxd:
The objective of ’71 is to plunge the audience into the conflict present within Northern Ireland at the time and place us straight into the boots of Jack O’Connell’s Gary Hook and the nightmare situation he has found himself in. Stranded in hostile territory, we follow Hook as he attempts to survive one dangerous night in Belfast and link up with the army unit that left him by accident. The film does a phenomenal job of creating an ultra-realistic look at Belfast and how wearing the conflict was on its population. Jack O’Connell is great at portraying how confused, yet determined Hook is to understand his situation and do whatever he can to survive.
The problem that I ultimately have with ’71 is that while it is undoubtedly intense, I never quite felt fully invested in the events and the characters. Like I said, Jack O’Connell is great in the film but he is never given the opportunity to shine and show his full range as an actor. The film also pursues a couple of side plots that slightly disrupt the flow of the narrative and detract our focus from constantly being with Hook and his dilemma. If the film had spent a little more time developing characters and themes instead of its side plots, we would have an incredible thriller. Instead, we have a very good one.