7500 Review: High Tension In The Highest Of Locations

Air travel certainly has changed after September 11th, 2001. Even with the stronger security measures, many people use airplanes to travel long distances. It is one of the most common forms of travel, and films about airplanes and trouble in the air are always interesting stories. The fictional genre of planes being hijacked seemingly dried up after 9/11. The new film 7500 tackles that frightening subject; a plane hijacking in a post 9/11 world, and it is a tense unrelenting thrill ride that expounds on the fears of terrorist threats by adding in fear of flying and claustrophobia, as the entire film takes place in the cockpit of European flight 162.

7500 stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tobias Ellis, the co-pilot on the doomed flight. When Muslim nationalists try to bum rush the cabin and take control of the plane shortly after takeoff from Berlin, Tobias is forced to keep control of the plane and not fall to temptations to let the terrorists into the cockpit.

These are some of the most gut-wrenching scenes I’ve witnessed in years. The tension between Tobias doing what he is supposed to and what is right is incredibly high as he watches through a camera as the terrorists take hostages, threatening to kill them if he doesn’t open the door.

When one of the hostages ends up being a woman (Aylin Tezel) he is involved with romantically, the tension is ramped up even higher.

The pilot boards the cockpit

Gordon-Levitt carries the entire film on his shoulders. And the actor rises to the occasion, giving the performance of his career. When the pilot (Carlo Kitzlinger) is killed in the initial rush. Tobias is left alone in the cramped and dark cockpit with only ground control as his only source of communication. He makes decisions both good and bad that causes the viewer to stop and wonder what would they do in that same situation.

Being confined in the tiny cockpit of an airliner — they’re not always as spacious as they show on film and TV — the viewer feels like they’re right there next to Tobias as he maneuvers through the incredibly harrowing situation. We feel his pain and anguish, and that is a testament to Gordon-Levitt’s performance.

Ultimately, the cockpit is compromised and the film takes another step up with the tension as Tobias must now contend with the threat up close, and his life is under constant threat from a terrorist (Omid Memar).

The 85 minute run time of 7500 is the perfect amount of time, as the film encompasses span between the liftoff from Berlin to the emergency landing in Hanover, and the final negotiations with the terrorist keeping him hostage. Shot in real time, it gives it a sense of realism that a lot of these these types of films don’t have.

Tobias loses control

7500 does not pull any punches, as it is exceptionally brutal without being overly gory and without taking the action over the top, even though the third act does slide into some cliched territory. This is a film that will stick with me long after my screening is over.

Director Patrick Vollrath did an outstanding job with the setup of this film. Keeping the camera in the cockpit the entire time created a new perspective to witness this scenario. Without getting into the heads of the terrorists or the hostages, or even the pilot, you’re seeing the attack in real time from that tiny location thousands of feet in the air. It’s amazing.

Much can be said about a film focusing on a plane hijacking in a post 9/11 world. Before, hijackings were used as a story mechanic to create tension and fear. Now, after almost 30 years, it still seems all so real and so affecting. It took courage of these filmmakers to tell a story like this. Luckily, the end result was an arousing success.

Don't open the door in 7500

Without giving too much away, the third act does kind of lose its sense of urgency and the tension does wane. When Tobias is forced to do comply tot he terrorists with a glass shiv at his neck at all times, it devolves down to a standoff between two men in the cockpit. Some of that energy from the first two acts of the film begins to dissipate and the film loses some luster.

In a sense, it becomes a different film entirely though, you’re still confined to that cockpit, you’re still seeing from that perspective the struggle between these two men. The third act doesn’t diminish all that came before it it just it can’t keep up that same level of gut-wrenching terror, for lack of a better term, as these events are playing out again in real time.

7500 is a film that will stick with you. It’s a haunting portrayal of a terrible situation. One that many people fear every time they board an airplane to travel. And even after 9/11, these threats are still out there; this could happen at any time. And that is the scariest takeaway from this film.

7500 is available now to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 7500
out of 5

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