By Joe McGovern
Updated March 04, 2015 at 12:00 PM EST

Jack O’Connell, the bulldogged star of Unbroken, is mesmerizing as British soldier Private Gary Hook, who’s left behind by his squad when a riot breaks out in strife-torn 1971 Belfast. The shark-infested waters of the actor’s previous film were less threatening than what O’Connell’s character faces here—at least that guy knew which side the sharks were on. Over the course of one impossibly dramatic night on the street, Hook survives explosions, gunshots, knife wounds, and betrayals by dirty cops on both sides of the Troubles. The script by playwright Gregory Burke attempts to punch up the plot more than is needed, but first-time director Yann Demange matches Spielberg’s or Hitchcock’s knack for heightening the you-are-right-there tension. It’s only March, but this could be 2015’s most invigorating directorial debut. B+

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