Why do the PC Police give everyone a pass when it comes to the Irish? You can't so much as think about making fun of African Americans, Native Americans, Homo-Bi-Trans-sexual Americans, Obese Americans ("Thank you for calling the Department of Redundancy Department. How may I help assist you?"), Jews, Arabs, Little People, Women, or pretty much anyone else, but crack wise about ol' plastered Paddy beatin' his wife and brawlin' at the pub and you're the next Jimmy Kimmel.
Maybe it has to do with most Irish folks' thicker-than-a-bowl-o'-potato-stew brogues? When you canne unnerstan fook ahl a tosser blathers, it makes it easier to don "Irish yoga" shirts and root for the Red Sox. '71, a one night in Belfast, behind enemy lines draction flick (that's drama+action, ya cunts) isn't going to do anything for the stereotype. I've watched every episode of Father Ted more than once and can quote you whole scenes from The Commitments, and even I had no feckin' idea what anyone in '71 was saying half the time.
Set in, you guessed it, 1971 during the heydey of The Troubles, '71 drops freshly-minted British solider Gary Hook (Jack "Flavor o' The Month" O'Connell) into Belfast on a woefully misnamed peacekeeping mission. Before he can say "Faith and Begorrah," he's caught in a riot, separated from his unit (heh, heh) and running for his life from the IRA.
In the blink of an eye, it's The O'Bourne Identity. Bloodied, bruised and weaponless, Hook stumbles from bad to worse to seemingly much better to totally fucked. He's shot at, chased, befriended, double-crossed, nearly blown up, dazed and confused.
Amidst all the hiding and seeking, '71 tries to explore the murky world of the socio-religio-class war that tore Northern Ireland apart for decades. It's Protestant versus Catholic. Irish versus English. Old IRA versus new IRA. Seamus O'Shamrock versus a pint o' Guinness.
At one point, hapless Hook ends up sheltered by a middle-aged man and his twenty-something Irish rose of a daughter. In one of the few bits of dialogue I could actually make out, after patching Hook up with some gruesome field surgery, the former Army medic Da explains to the green recruit that the military is nothing but "Posh cunts telling thick cunts to kill poor cunts." Now that's a bitter boxty.
Seventies-style porno 'staches and floppy hairdos do a lot to undercut the menace of all the growled threats and 914.4-meter stares. Still '71 is one cheesed off leprechaun. It's your bald, potbellied, drunk uncle calling your mom a whore and shoving your little brother into the bushes three quarters of the way through Thanksgiving day. It's surly and bleak and it doesn't give a fuck.
You know, a perfect Irish date movie. Let's just hope that when Fergal goes for the pot o' gold, it's not Bloody Sunday.