Patrick Vollrath’s hijacking thriller 7500 starts out on a promising note. Through static security camera footage, we observe the process of a group of men as they prepare to board a plane, readying their homemade supplies and maneuvering through the airport with lethal anonymity. It’s a series of shots that emanates dread through its methodical pacing and absence of sound. It’s something that wouldn’t be out of place in, say, a cerebral Michael Haneke drama or even the pretext for a Jason Bourne-like action film.
Unfortunately, the remainder of 7500 doesn’t quite live up to the orchestral brilliance of these opening shots, perhaps because it then becomes confined to an airplane cockpit with very little room to breathe or expand. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s emotionally draining performance aside, Vollrath’s debut film becomes suffocatingly ordinary as the tension rises and the stakes mount. As it grows louder, I only wished the masterful quiet of its opening scenes would return.
As the co-pilot of an airliner, Tobias (Levitt) is not completely out place in this Berlin-set destination. An American who has found a home and girlfriend with on-board flight attendant Gokce (Aylin Tezel), 7500 immediately sets the stage for a personal tragedy as mostly everything and everyone he loves is on board the flight. Friendly banter aside with his fellow pilot Michael (a very good Carlo Kitlinger in a brief but commanding role), Tobias is soon dealing with a barrage of men trying to enter the flight deck.
Via more grainy footage of the cock-pit entrance camera, Tobias is forced to watch and make some very difficult decisions as the hijackers use extraordinarily violent means to persuade the locks to come off.
Asked to scamper through an array of emotions, Gordon-Levitt (one of the more talented young actors of the last fifteen years or so) is extremely believable as a man under intense pressure to abide by the rules and save many while sacrificing a few. His performance is strong around a screenplay whose character reversals and heightened archs are commonplace tenets of action thrillers. If there’s any reason 7500 doesn’t fully take flight, it’s not on his shoulders.
The dangers of a single-set film — ruling out all those passionate plays transferred to film whose dialogue is enough to sear itself into one’s memory and eradicate their singular locales — rear their heads with 7500. It doesn’t feature searing dialogue or secondary characters prominent enough to make it anything more than an average examination of hard choices rendered during a violent crisis. It’s not long before the cockpit becomes exhausting, and not in a subversively good way either.
7500 opens on Thursday, June 18 via Amazon Prime Video.