7500 (2020) – Film Review


Make sure your seat and tray table are in an upright position, your seatbelt is securely fastened and your mobile device is definitely not in Airplane mode for high-altitude thriller 7500.

7500 is the code used to alert air traffic control to a hijacking. The trailer itself states, “there is no code as to what comes next” and First Officer Tobias Ellis is forced to make life-or-death decisions when his Berlin to Paris flight is hijacked by terrorists and they attempt to gain access to the cockpit.

Movies about hijackings are nothing new. Air Force One, Executive Decision, Non-Stop, even Con Air and United 93 to name but a few. What 7500 does to differentiate itself is have the film play out entirely within the cockpit of the plane.

This puts the audience right in the heart of the action, and like the main character, there is nowhere to escape to. You become Tobias’s co-pilot to all extent and are with him every step of the way. Therefore the film lives or dies on the audience’s complete trust in the performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

He has been absent from our screens since 2016 with the exception of voice cameos in Rian Johnson’s films. It may seem an odd project to make his return but it allows him to showcase what a terrific actor he truly is. Rather than run, he flies through the full gamut of emotions as the situation becomes increasingly turbulent. It is comparable to Tom Hanks’s work in Captain Phillips. As he makes decisions know human should have to make, the audience are forced to question what they themselves would do in such a situation. This creates a huge amount of empathy for the character, you truly feel for him in those moments.

The same, sadly, cannot be said for the hijackers. The majority of the dialogue between pilot and enemy takes place through a phone and video screen, and provides insufficient detail to understand their motivation. That makes it even more frustrating that characters fall into the lazy Hollywood stereotype of Muslim terrorists.

From the moment the flight takes off, just like the plane ascending to a cruising altitude of 37000 feet, director Patrick Vollrath does a solid job of increasing the tension and anxiety. You won’t recline your seat when the seatbelt signs go off because you’ll only be using the edge of it.

That is why, as the film begins making its final descent, it is disappointingly unable to maintain the (cabin) pressure. Rather than making an emergency landing, it finds itself stuck in an unnecessary holding pattern as the air and tension get slowly sucked out before the inevitable conclusion.

In a world emerging from Lockdown, it is unlikely to improve consumer confidence in flying again any time soon. However bumpy landing aside, 7500 is a taut, 90 minute thrill ride and welcome return for Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

7500 is available to stream on Amazon Prime from 18 June.

Director: Patrick Vollrath
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Omid Memar, Aylin Tezel, Carlo Kitzlinger
Runtime: 92 mins
Country: Germany/Austria/USA

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