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Stars: Jack O'Connell, Martin McCann, Richard Dormer, Barry Keoghan, Charlie Murphy, Sam Reid, Paul Anderson, Sean Harris

Director: Yann Demange

This well-constructed British film starts out as a portrait of the violence and danger facing inexperienced British soldiers in Northern Ireland at the beginning of the 1970s - but it develops into a thriller, and rather a good one too, as Gary Hook (O'Connell, who seems to be everywhere just now) is cut off from his unit and left to the mercy of the Belfast streets.

It's a story of double-agents, dangerous mavericks and headstrong young IRA members, often leaving the viewer to guess as to whose side various characters are on.

For once, the director's desaturated colour scheme pays off, as Belfast becomes a nightmare of brown streets and yellow lamps as Hook fights to stay alive and return to his colleagues, in the face of various factions who want him dead for what he represents or what he knows.

Performances are appropriately rough and ready, although the film does introduce a talented, natural boy actor in Corey McKinley as a rough-tongued ragamuffin who helps the beleaguered Hook; action is never less than brutally realistic and thoroughly convincing, with the sense of imminent death present round every glumly-bricked corner.

David Quinlan

UK 2014. UK Distributor: StudioCanal/BFI. Colour (unspecified).
99 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 26 Dec 2014