Billed as an international co-production between Austria, Germany, and the United States, 7500 is an action thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and directed by Patrick Vollrath (in his directorial feature-length film debut), I was really curious about his film, especially as Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of my favorite actors. The film deals with terrorists attempting to take over an airplane flight and I did wonder how the co-production between countries would enhance or change the action. I found Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance powerful and the action/suspense realistic and taut with tension throughout the film.
7500 begins with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, Tobias, (an American pilot based in Germany) talking with his girlfriend, a stewardess on the same flight, discussing schools their child should attend. The captain, Michael Lutzmann (Carlo Kitzlinger), and Tobias do their pre-flight checks and then take off against turbulent weather. The flight seems to be going normally but after a short time, terrorists attempt to storm the cockpit. Tobias manages to keep them out but the captain is badly hurt and Tobias is wounded as well. The terrorists take control of the passengers, trying to use them as hostages. Tobias tries to keep them out but makes a connection with the youngest terrorist Vedat (Omid Memar) when they take his girlfriend. He also tries to convince the passengers to take back control as the terrorists are only lightly armed. Ultimately, it is a question of whether the passengers are able to survive and if Tobias can manage to land the plane before the terrorists manage to get control of the cockpit.
The most outstanding piece of this film is the performances, both of the lead Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the secondary actors, like Omid Memar, Carlo Kitzlinger, and Aurélie Thépaut as Nathalie, Tobias’ girlfriend. Joseph’s portrayal is nuanced, emotional, and compelling as Tobias, his fear palpable, and his grief for the passengers real. His connection to Vedat is authentic and dynamic in how they interact, even as Tobias fears for his life and the life of his girlfriend. Omid Memar is powerful as Vedat, a young man over his head in a situation out of his control. Aurélie Thépaut is touching as Nathalie and Carlo Kitzlinger’s performance was poignant. While terrorists on a plane are not new, their portrayals heightened the tension and suspense of the situation and if you like thrillers, I would recommend it for the actors alone.
While the story is not unique, the depiction is realistic. Unlike the heroics seen in American action films, this film has none of the characters attempting bold action moves but rather Tobias fights off the terrorist, takes control of the plane, negotiates, and attempts to de-escalate the situation. He follows protocols set down by airlines and does not allow the terrorists into the cockpit. While he ultimately still has to fight them, he is wounded and his actions are limited by his wounds, leading him to use words to connect to Vedat. Vedat’s actions based on fear and anger are believable and integral to the plot. And while I won’t spoil the film, I did find both sets of action compelling.
The tension and pacing of the film are phenomenal, the action ratcheting up quickly after the initial introduction and we are introduced to the characters enough to be able to connect with them and fear for their lives in the altercation. The extreme situation is heart-stopping without being anything you would take pleasure in as you can only grapple with the situation much as the passengers and crew do. The ability to bring the viewer into the hearts and minds of the people in the scenario is what makes this film interesting and engaging.
What I did find odd was that the only real theme was the realism and authenticity of a terrorist attack without any special heroics. I really felt like the concept was to point out the risks and dangers of terrorism, the real actions pilots would take in the scenario, and what would happen to any hostages. But there was little that we haven’t seen in similar films over the years other than those realistic details. I didn’t see anything new other than a really well-acted, well-written film, the theme of the movie was missing any real twist or surprise, at least to me. And for viewers who’ve experienced any dangerous situations, it might be difficult to sit through.
If you like nitty-gritty action thrillers, with authentic situations and powerful performances, you might enjoy this film as it comes out on VOD. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is incredibly engaging, emotional, and well worth watching in any movie he is in. I liked the blend of an American pilot flying a German plane and the use of languages to inhibit the connection between the terrorists and Tobias. Those complications make the movie interesting and if you don’t mind subtitles, you might check this out, especially for the incredible portrayals.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 terrorists
7500 comes out today and is available on Amazon Prime.