- Directed by Patrick Vollrath
- Written by Patrick Vollrath and Senad Halibasic
- Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt
- Classification R; 92 minutes
Like the most turbulent of flights, the hijacked-airline drama 7500 opens on a bumpy note. For some unknown and ill-advised reason, director Patrick Vollrath throws the oft-used Gandhi quote “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” up on the screen like it is the most profound piece of wisdom that no one has ever heard. I had to fight the urge to turn the film off then and there. (Professionalism and all that kept my impulse at bay.)
Fortunately, the Gandhi bit is instantly forgotten, and Vollrath quickly gets down to the business of fashioning a lean locked-room thriller about one man’s very bad flight. American co-pilot Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is not new to the airline game, having flown across Europe for the past decade with calm, steely confidence. But he’s still wildly unprepared for what happens when a handful of stock Islamist terrorists take control of his Berlin-to-Paris flight – all while the mother of his child is aboard, too, working as a flight attendant.
Vollrath runs through every nightmare scenario efficiently, and to his credit not only embraces the nastier elements of such a thriller but does so with gusto. The first half of the film is brutal and even a little devastating. But once every possible thing goes wrong – and a quick glance at the clock reveals that there are still 40 minutes left in the movie – you’re left to wonder what could possibly happen next. The unfortunate answer: not all that much.
At least the director, who co-wrote the film with Senad Halilbasic, is more skilled at creating an atmosphere than he is at plotting. Although the plot takes place almost entirely inside Tobias’s cockpit, Vollrath finds novel ways to showcase the space and doesn’t take the easy route of letting a heavy score tease the tension. Instead, the silence of an airliner and the sweat of a pilot under pressure are the director’s friends. Until, that is, the thing runs out of fuel (metaphorically and literally, in terms of the airliner).
Gordon-Levitt, absent from the big screen since 2016′s Snowden, oscillates nicely between maintaining an air of remarkable calm and then breaking down completely, and he pretends to know what all those airplane buttons do quite well. If absolutely necessary, I’d let the actor fly me to safety. But I’d double-check that manifest first, too.
7500 is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video starting June 19
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