Using my prodiguous powers of prognostication (say that three times fast when you’re drunk!), I predict that you’re going to be hearing quite a bit of Jack O’Connell’s name real soon. Since making his young name on the cast of BBC’s Skins TV series, O’Connell has been steadily edging his way into the spotlight, but he’s about to have a whopper of a few years that should see him lit up real bright.
He already made an impression earlier in 2014 when he showed up in 300: Rise of an Empire as Callisto, the young son of Callan Mulvey’s Scyllias, and will probably be looking to turn the heads of quite a few awards committee members with his lead role as real life hero Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. After that, he’ll be playing the lead in Joe “Attack the Block” Cornish’s MI6 origin story spy caper, Section 6, which will be followed up by starring opposite Dane DeHaan and Christoph Waltz in Justin “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” Chadwick’s 17th century romantic drama Tulip Fever.
So yeah, he’s a very busy young man with a lot of serious breakout gigs in his future. But the film that actually kicked off this rapid rise – that got him starred up, you might even say if you were so pun-ishly inclined – is the British prison drama Starred Up, which he actually made before any of these previously mentioned films.
The small budgeted production has been making the festival rounds since last year, receiving tons of praise for it’s violent, unrelenting and unforgiving depiction of a bad young man in an even worse spot. O’Connell has had a unending string accolades heaped on him for his performance as said bad apple, but until now, outside of a recent limited release in the UK, us non-film festival goers were not able to see it. That’s luckily changed thanks to Tribeca Film finally picking up the film’s further distribution rights, and planning for a release sometime later in the year. And judging from this trailer, it was worth the wait.
19-year-old Eric (Jack O’Connell), arrogant and ultra-violent, is prematurely transferred to the same adult prison facility as his estranged father (Ben Mendelsohn). As his explosive temper quickly finds him enemies in both prison authorities and fellow inmates — and his already volatile relationship with his father is pushed past breaking point — Eric is approached by a volunteer psychotherapist (Rupert Friend), who runs an anger management group for prisoners. Torn between gang politics, prison corruption, and a glimmer of something better, Eric finds himself in a fight for his own life, unsure if his own father is there to protect him or join in punishing him.
Starred Up is directed by David Mackenzie and written by newcomer Jonathan Asser. It is scheduled for limited release on August 29, 2014, before getting a further release sometime thereafter.
Last Updated: July 15, 2014