Released: 18th June
Seen: 10th August
You know what’s hard? Starting reviews on movies about difficult subjects, like 7500, because I have to try and give a brief catchy way to clue you into the movie. This opening paragraph is designed, in part, to catch your eye while you’re scrolling through my site and maybe make you curious about the content of the review and normally can involve backstory or a comparison or even an anecdote that relates to the media at hand… well, 7500 is about a bunch of people hijacking a plane so how exactly do I ease into that? Guess what I just did might be the best I’ll be able to do.
7500 takes place on board a plane from Berlin to Paris which is being co-piloted by Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Shortly after takeoff, a trio of men try to break into the cockpit and in the process injure Tobias’ arm and kill the actual pilot, but they don’t get into the cockpit itself. What follows is a race against the clock between Tobias and the hijackers, which includes an 18 year old named Vedat (Omid Memar), to see if Tobias can get the plane to safety before the hijackers kill all the passengers.
Shot in a style that’s reminiscent of Buried, the film refuses to leave the cockpit and that simple decision makes this film much more intense. Effectively we’re watching a one man show for the bulk of the film, a film that’s blessed with a tour-de-force performance by Gordon-Levitt who basically is the only character of note for the entire runtime. We have to watch as this man is put through hell, seeing people he loves being threatened and killed by a group of terrorists who are effectively nameless evil that he spends the entire time trying to figure out while also getting the plane to Hamberg where safety awaits.
For a film that’s entirely shot in a small plane cabin, it’s impressive how they never make it feel mundane with how it’s shot. The film certainly maintains some serious claustrophobia, there’s never a moment where you don’t feel the walls coming in on our lead, but it also feels like it’s always finding new ways to show this small space. It even gets more claustrophobic after the halfway mark where our 18 year old hijacker is also put into the cabin where he seems to always find a corner to press himself against (oh the subtle visual language of that one repeated action).
Unfortunately, the introduction of that younger hijacker is where this film really does start to lose me. For the first half of the film it’s genuinely stunning watching Gordon-Levitt try and figure out how to save his passengers without ever opening the cabin door and his reactions when that fails is the real emotional gut punch of the film. However once you introduce the hijackers into that cockpit it’s less interesting because all they’re doing is yelling all the time and there’s no real choice anymore, it’s “do what they say or die”.
That’s not to say the second half of the film is bad, it also has some genuinely great moments where the hijacker and pilot try to talk and find common ground. Those moments really don’t compare to a lot of what was at the start and after a while you do become kind of numb to the sounds of a teenager screaming.
It stops being an interesting back and forth at that point, once it’s just the two of them talking it becomes a game of “how long until the cops come in and pop a bullet in this hijacker” which is practically inevitable. There’s actually a big moment just before the halfway point which might’ve worked better closer to the end but that’s not how this film is structured, it used all its best ideas right up front and then the ending is less interesting because of it.
Throughout the entire film, the major thing to take away is the performance by Gordon-Levitt who is the entire reason to watch this film. He’s fast becoming one of the most reliable actors who can seemingly do everything, and now he’s just carrying an entire thriller on his performance alone. If nothing else you should watch 7500 for his incredible work, considering he carries most of the film with one hand literally tied behind his back it’s quite a sight to behold.