It has been 2020 for a hundred years and we’re still only in mid-June. The world outside is ugly and scary and there’s a killer bug trying to wipe us out. Despite the risk, good people have taken to the streets to stop bad things from happening and thanks to protest hijackers that’s all become pretty ugly too.
7500 is the story of a good man trying to stop bad things from happening. It plays out in real-time, is unsettlingly realistic, visceral and bleak with a pair of impressive central performances and horribly plausible stakes. And, frankly, it all feels like a bit too much right now.
In the opening moments of 7500, the emotionless eyes of a series of security cameras watch nervy young Vedat (Omid Memar) as he progresses through an airport; drawing in closer to scrutinise his actions and tingle our thriller-primed Spidey senses.
By contrast, Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) dutifully and efficiently goes through the motions of another working day as the first officer on a commercial passenger flight from Berlin to Paris. Captain Michael Lutzmann (Carlo Kitzlinger) gently teases Tobias about an indiscreet embrace with his flight attendant girlfriend and his youthful looks.
The approach of bad weather returns the pair to business and they fall into an easy rhythm as they begin their final checks. We hunker down in the cockpit with them, a black and white monitor offering a static view of the other side of the closed door, crew members go about their business beyond it and the plane safely ascends.
After successfully evading the storm, any sense of stress in the cockpit abates. Yet director Patrick Vollrath forces our eyes repeatedly to that monitor; checking and doublechecking, ratcheting up the impending dread. 7500 is the code for an aircraft hijacking and our pilots’ refreshments arrive with an unexpected side order of terrorist.
Because, of course, you were correct, 7500 has no intention of reinventing the wheel so Vedat and his stealthy companions are indeed Islamists with a do and die mission to take control of the flight and bring it down. Pulses quicken and knuckles whiten as a deadly scuffle ensues. Tobias forces one man out but Michael is fatally wounded.
Our adrenalin pumps obediently as we share in Tobias’s horror, understand his blank stare of disbelief and the frustrating amount of time it takes him to process everything that has happened and communicate it to the ground. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a consummate everyman, making it so easy to empathise with his plight…
But deep inside a tiny voice cries: stop the plane I want to get off!
Did we really need another plot by numbers film about terrorists? Does 7500 have anything new to say? No. And, regretfully, no. The timing couldn’t be helped but its very existence could. After putting Tobias through a series of increasingly impossible choices and cruelly toying with his sense of powerlessness, Vollrath and editor Hansjörg Weißbrich suddenly snip through the unbearable tension by opening up the door and with it, any originality exits too.
We set down on trite, well-trodden ground that feels wearying to explore. As Vedat and Tobias fight battles existential and real, Gordon-Levitt and Omid Memar wrestle manfully with their roles. Ultimately though their talent isn’t enough to justify this film. Shouting down that tiny inner voice comes one more familiar still: Jeff Goldblum. And he’s chucking ruefully saying, “…so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
7500 is available for streaming on Amazon Prime from 19th June