7500 – A Review by Cynthia Flores
7500 is the distress code. It’s used by pilots to alert ground control to the fact that they’ve been hijacked. The film 7500 opens with a black slate and the words, “An eye for an eye just leaves the world blind.” This movie is a parable of that well-known saying.
The German-born director / co-writer Patrick Vollrath gives you almost a fly-on-the-wall feeling for his feature film debut. That’s the signature of his unique style of storytelling, first seen in his 2016 Academy Award-nominated short Everything Will Be Okay. In fact, his star Joseph Gordon-Levitt stated in interviews that he loved the script, but what sold him on the idea of doing the film was watching the short film. “All the performances felt so natural,” he said.
The director Vollrath describes his unconventional process of filmmaking that archives this style and gives his films an intimate look and feel. On the set, he requires a lot of improvisation on the part of the actors and the camera. He will let the camera roll for 20, 30, or even 40 minutes at a time. Just letting the actors become the characters and live the situation.
The story for 7500 is relatively straightforward. It looks like a routine day at work for Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a soft-spoken young American copilot on a flight from Berlin to Paris. As he runs through the preflight checklist with Michael (Carlo Kitzlinger), the captain, he chats with Gökce (Aylin Tezel), his flight-attendant girlfriend and mother to his young son. But shortly after takeoff, terrorists armed with makeshift knives made from broken liquor bottles purchased past security checkpoints in the duty-free stores suddenly storm the cockpit. They manage to severely wound the captain and slash Tobias’ arm as he manages to get the door closed and locked to the cockpit. He then knocks out and ties up the lead terrorist Kalkan (Passar Hariky) that attacked his captain. A terrified Tobias contacts ground control to plan an emergency landing. But when the hijackers kill a passenger and threaten to murder more innocent people if he doesn’t let them back into the cockpit, this ordinary man faces an excruciating test.
This film feels real and will have you sitting on the edge of your sofa, yelling at the screen, coaching Tobias, and telling him what to do. That’s all due to the director Vollrath’s style and commitment to authenticity. He was lucky that his producers, the award-winning producing duo of Jonas Katzenstein and Maximilian Leo, had his back and understood his vision. The producers made an ambitious choice since most of the film takes place in the cockpit. “We had to buy a real airplane because none of Europe’s mock-up planes could convince Patrick.” Leo is quoted as saying, “Not one of them looked exactly like a real A320 or a Boeing. Instead, they all looked like a combination of the two. So, we bought a real one, cut it, and used the front third of the plane. In the end, it was worth it because it feels more real than anything I have ever seen on screen.”
7500 is a brilliant film, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is at the top of his game as a man put in an impossible situation. I can’t wait to see what this writer/director Vollrath does next.
I give 7500 a 5-star rating. It’s a tense thriller that was robbed of debuting on the big screen due to COVID 19 restrictions. However, I know a lot of people have a big screen set up in their homes, so crank up the sound, settle into your sofa, and prepare to experience this wild flight.
Directed by: Patrick Vollrath
Written by: Patrick Vollrath, Senad Halilbasic
Running Time: 1hr 32min
Drama / Thriller
On-Demand Release: Amazon Prime June 18th
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Omid Memar, Murathan Muslu, Carlo Kitzlinger, Aylin Tezel
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.