7500 movie review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt thriller, on Amazon Prime Video, is a cliché-riddled airplane hijacking saga
7500 marks German writer-director Patrick Vollrath's feature film debut.
German writer-director Patrick Vollrath’s feature film debut 7500 shows how a pilot (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) single-handedly tries to avert a hijacking and safely land his flight. Vollarth's earlier work includes the 2015 short Everything Will be Okay which was nominated for an Oscar.
The Amazon Prime Video thriller is among the many air disaster films from Sully (2016) to 2006’s Snakes on a Plane and United 93, but what makes 7500 unique is it takes place within the tight confines of the cockpit. The film’s title comes from the universal transponder code for an airplane hijacking.
Gordon-Levitt plays Tobias Ellis, an American first officer to his German captain Michael Lutzmann (Carlo Kitzlinger) embarking on a routine flight from Berlin to Paris. In the first 15-minutes or so the two pilots make small talk and go through the pre-flight checklist. We are also introduced to Tobias’ girlfriend Gökce (Aylin Tezel), one of the flight attendants on board, with whom he has a two-year-old son.
These few minutes are peaceful, a little too peaceful, steadily leading to the catastrophe that will hit the flight.
As soon as the plane takes off, four terrorists armed with knives fashioned out of broken glass bottles, try to gain control of the cockpit with the aim to re-enact the 9/11 crash. One of them brutally stabs the captain and injures Tobias, who is able to knock him out cold.
Alone in the cockpit with a dying captain and an unconscious terrorist, he plans an emergency landing with the air traffic control as the remaining hijackers incessantly pound on his cockpit door. His only liaison with the rest of the plane is through a screen. He watches a passenger being taken hostage and brutally slain when he refuses to buckle-down to the demands of the hijackers.
7500 rides entirely on Gordon-Levitt’s organic performance as a hapless pilot caught in a terrifying, inescapable situation. He struggles to maintain a semblance of calm in the midst of the chaos outside his chamber.
Nearing the end, the film focuses on the confrontation between Tobias and the youngest hijacker played by Omid Memar. The filmmakers try to humanise Vedat, a hyperventilating 18-year-old reluctant to proceed with his team suicide’s mission, and who upon receiving a phone call from his mother sobs that he just wants to go home. It’s a long-drawn-out cliched moment, attempting to evoke a forced emotional response from the audience.
Another cliché is the reiteration of the ol’ terrorist and white saviour tropes. The story falls short as the factors that motivated these four hijackers to orchestrate the violent attack are never provided with the exception of one sequence where Kenan (Murathan Muslu) declares it as revenge for all Muslim lives lost to bombing by the West. Its 2020 after all, and cinema does not have any space for perpetuating racial or religious stereotypes.
Crafting a story set in just one location, a claustrophobic cockpit, could have potentially been the film’s biggest limitation, but emerges as quite the opposite due to Sebastian Thaler’s cinematography and Hansjörg’s editing.
7500 is not a recreation of a real life incident, but is still unsettling. It has only left me wondering what I would have done in this situation. After a look at its trailer, I was not in the least excited to watch this film for it has taken me years to overcome my childhood fear of flying. With viewers who find the prospect of flying upsetting, I suggest you best avoid this film. But for those who enjoy a mild vicarious adrenaline rush and have exhausted all options on OTT platforms, this Amazon Prime Original is a satisfactory entertainer.
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