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7500 (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) - Review (Amazon Prime)


Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JOSEPH Gordon-Levitt’s return to acting after taking a couple of years out to enjoy fatherhood is a taut, often gruelling hijacking thriller that grips from start to finish. But it’s not without turbulence.

The feature debut from German writer-director Patrick Vollrath (who was Oscar nominated for his short film, Everything Will Be Okay in 2015), 7500 is a single-location movie set within the confines of the cockpit of an airplane that is being hijacked. For some, this represents a B-movie type scenario; but the nature of how events play out feels far more real and scary.

And it’s this relationship with the truth that makes 7500 such uncomfortable viewing. Terror attacks – as evidenced by the recent stabbings in Reading – are a part of everyday life and fear. Even as the world emerges from a coronavirus enforced lockdown, terror re-emerged at an alarming rate.

7500 exists under the shadow of 9/11. Paul Greengrass’ “United 93”: is never far from the memory, which makes Vollrath’s offering difficult to describe as entertainment. It shouldn’t really be viewed in that context.

Certainly, from the matter of fact manner of the direction and the cold-blooded nature of some of the choices, Vollrath appears to be playing things as real as possible. And this is something echoed in the performances, which are all really strong.

Gordon-Levitt plays Tobias, an American co-pilot on an apparently routine flight from Berlin to Paris.

Onboard the plane, along with a full load of passengers, are flight attendant Gökce (Aylin Tezel), with whom Tobias has a young child. It’s one of those plot devices clearly designed to raise the stakes.

Moments after take-off, a group of hijackers, who have previously been observed on airport surveillance cameras, attempt to storm the cockpit, critically injuring the captain (pilot turned actor Carlo Kitzlinger) and seriously injuring Tobias.

But Tobias is able to over-power one of his assailants, while forcing the other out of the cockpit, thereby enabling him to contact the authorities and redirect his plane to a ‘safe’ new destination. As the hijackers’ desperation mounts, however, Tobias is faced with some challenging decisions.

Co-written by Bosnian-born Austrian screenwriter Senad Halilbasic, and taking its title from the air traffic control code for a hijacking, 7500 makes for breathless, claustrophobic viewing that isn’t afraid to ask challenging questions of its viewers.

Early on, there’s the classic ‘what would you do’-style scenario as Tobias is forced to interact with his hijackers from behind a closed door. But as the film progresses, the walls between co-pilot and extremists are stripped away.

A young hijacker, played by Omid Memar, offers Tobias some hope of support; his allegiances not always obvious. And therein lies another of the movie’s fascinating creative choices. It’s indicative of more recent film choices to explore areas of conflict from both sides that Memar is afforded the time to present himself as a human being; someone possibly groomed, who doesn’t fully understand the situation he has come to be in.

And yet, within that, lies anger and fear, as well as the ability to make rash choices. Memar plays the nuances brilliantly.

Gordon-Levitt, meanwhile, brings similar fear mixed with confusion and resolution, tapping into an unlikely heroism as he grapples with life and death decisions and his own feelings of rage and terror. It’s a demanding role that he more than embraces.

Vollrath, meanwhile, succeeds in maintaining the tension, while offering plenty for his actors to do in order to avoid cliché as best they can. His film seldom feels contrived and opts for a more documentary-style approach, a feeling enhanced by the largely hand-held camera style of the cinematography.

But there remains a sometimes troubling sense that films like this are treading a very fine line between having something worthwhile to say (even on a cautionary basis) and providing disposable entertainment. Do we really need this kind of ‘entertainment’?

In 7500‘s case, I felt the film did provide a sobering reminder of the dangers we continue to face and the complex mess that is the modern world. It makes the film difficult to recommend for anyone seeking escapism from everyday stresses and strains. But it is worth seeing for anyone with even a passing awareness of current events and the instability that is the new norm.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 92mins
UK Release Date (Streaming): Available now exclusively on Amazon Prime