If you don’t know the name Jack O’Connell yet, don’t worry, because you’re about to. The 24-year old London thesp made quite an impression this year in the ferocious prison drama “Starred Up,” even managing to upstage formidable character actor Ben Mendelsohn in a number of scenes. You’ll also be able to catch him in Angelina Jolie’s upcoming World War II drama “Unbroken,” which gives the young “Skins” star the meaty part of Louis Zamperini, the American soldier who survived a plane crash by clinging to a life raft for 47 days, only to be captured and imprisoned by the Japanese military. The film has been slated for a December 25th release, boding well for O’Connell’s shot at Oscar glory, and now it appears the young Brit has got another enticing proposition on the horizon.
A new, exciting, dialogue-free clip from the upcoming thriller “’71” has landed online today, showcasing O’Connell in another promising starring role. The film, directed by Yann Demange, concerns itself with the infamous riots that occurred on the streets of Belfast in 1971 as a result of drastic and, some would say, unjust actions taken by the IRA. O’Connell plays a British soldier abandoned by his unit, who has to survive the dangerous streets during the turmoil.
The clip is certainly intriguing, evoking both the color-drained political intrigue of Steven Speilberg’s “Munich” and, to a lesser degree, the dark, tense, handheld immediacy of Michael Mann. It’s a promising tease for the film, suggesting a palpable sense of dread and paranoia without giving too much (or any) of the story away. Our own Jessica Kiang gave the film a rapturous review, stating “this notoriously thorny and treacherous territory is negotiated with real intelligence and sensitivity tells us that, if there’s any justice, it will be as much a breakout for its neophyte director as for its lead.”
“Unbroken” could be O’ Connell’s ticket to the big leagues of major Hollywood filmmaking, but for now, it’s a treat to see him take on interesting, more low-key work like “Starred Up” and “71,” and we’re sure we will see more of him in the near future.
StudioCanal will release “’71” on October 10th in the U.K. Roadside Attractions will bring the film to U.S. cinemas but no date has been set. [Shortlist]