SYNOPSIS: When terrorists try to seize control of a Berlin-Paris flight, a soft-spoken young American co-pilot struggles to save the lives of the passengers and crew while forging a surprising connection with one of the hijackers.
With a budget that is probably less than the catering fee for Air Force One, Executive Decision or Liam Neeson’s Non-Stop, 7500 is a claustrophobic thriller set solely in the cockpit of a hijacked plane.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays First Officer Tobias Ellis who is on a routine flight from Berlin to Paris. Shortly after the plane took off, a group of terrorists attempt to take over the flight by forcing their way to the cockpit. Tobias managed to subdue one of the terrorists but the Captain is seriously injured during the scuffle. The other terrorists threatens to kill the onboard passengers unless Tobias opens the cockpit door. At the same time, the plane is diverted to Hanover on the pretext of refuel under the order of the Air Traffic Control.
Rather than being a dumb action flick, 7500 is a tense thriller that takes place entirely in the constraint cockpit. Directed and written by German filmmaker Patrick Vollrath, the flick is a showcase of Vollrath’s wondrous creativity as a filmmaker proving that Indie and arthouse movies are not just talky dramas, they can be heart-pounding thrillers as well.
Besides Vollrath’s solid directing, cinematographer Sebastian Thaler deserved credit for an immersive, well-lit shoot inside a real but destined for scrap Airbus A320. Even the production design is impressive given the amount of fake control panels and lighting. The technical jargon is also well-written if you are an aviation fan.
Gordon-Levitt who bounced back to the big screen after a long hiatus is absolutely compelling as the helpless emphatic pilot. Trying his best to protect his onboard passengers and also trying to calm down the young terrorist, Vedat (Omid Memar) who changes his mind after learning that his accomplice plans to down the entire plane into a city, Gordon-Levitt’s performance is the reason why he deserved more screen roles.
But 7500 is not totally without its flaws. There’s a cliché-ridden, stereotyping reason why the terrorists want to execute their plan and a finale that loses much of the momentum which the movie has competently created earlier on. Otherwise, it’s mostly taut and suspenseful.
7500 works effectively well on the small screen. Tobias Ellis is not a character that has a particular set of skills to outwit his enemies but the Hitchhockian-like theme and engaging performances keep the movie from going auto-pilot. No major turbulences expected only a sweet cocktail along the way.
Review by Linus Tee