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I like to call a movie such as 7500 a compact picture. It’s where the run-time is a tight 96 minutes, has a basic premise, and wastes little time. Other examples would be movies such as, The Shallows, Don’t Breathe, or recently Crawl. They find a place at the cineplex because it never fails. The audience knows what is in store and the details are tight. 7500 has a simple premise, an airplane has been hijacked by terrorists and it’s up to one of the pilots to fend them off to save his passengers. The difference in the depth of this one, compared to the movies I mentioned earlier, is that it subtly develops the main character, co-pilot Tobias Ellis, played keenly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His character has a bit more skin in the game and becomes isolated in the cockpit, with the weight of saving lives, all while fighting off the assailants. It makes 7500 an intense and terrifying thriller and a solid welcome back to Joseph Gordon-Levitt. 

Right off the bat, the movie to compare 7500 to is Captain Phillips. Not just because it’s about a terrorist attack and hostage situation, but because director Patrick Vollrath is not stereotyping his characters, but making them feel real. Co-written by Vollrath and Senad Halilbasic, they make the nobel choice to have 7500 be about two sides, one pilot and one of the hijackers. Things expectedly start smooth, Tobias checks in with his captain, one of the maintenance men lets them know they have a few delayed passengers, the flight attendants ask if the pilots need any water, basic stuff before takeoff. The little details dropped along the way turn the intensity up. One of the flight attendants- Gokce (Aylin Tezel) happens to be in a relationship with Tobias and the mother of his child, now there is a connection and extra emotion charged. The trio of hijackers try to push their way into the cockpit, in an intense fight, leaving Tobias bloody and his co-pilot holding on for life. The fight keeps the hijackers out of the drivers seat, but it now places all the pressure on Tobias and the 80-some hostages on his flight. He calls a 7500 to ground control, the signals for an aircraft hijacking, and that is just the start. 

Although the comparisons to a Paul Greengrass picture are evident, United 93 or even recently 22 July, both have intense cinematic situations, but the movie that kept popping up in my mind was Steven Knight’s Locke. That’s the movie where Tom Hardy takes a long drive in his car and the drama unfolds through various telephone calls. 7500 is more intense, but after the attempt to hijack the plane, things slow down and become a different kind of ticking clock. Tobias has a bloody arm, views the action in the cabin from a small video monitor, a co-pilot fighting for his life, and one of the hijackers knocked out unconscious, all in the cockpit, with thirty minutes left before he can land safely in Hanover, Germany. It keeps things intense, minute to minute, with two of the hijackers constantly banging on the door, while threatening to kill passengers. The premise alone will invoke various thoughts in your head of how one would handle a situation this dire, this frightening. 

The other highlight of 7500 is the return of Joseph Gordon-Levitt from a brief hiatus of acting. His work is good, not on the same level of Tom Hanks’ effort, but still strong. The script works best when one of the hijackers- Vedat (played impressively by Omid Memar) becomes involved, a man afraid of the choices he has made, aware of the lives that could be lost, and engaging in conversations with Tobias. The balance found is not a question of good vs. evil. The other two hijackers have a frightening rage, but Vedat is scared, and obviously knows what the three of them have done is wrong. The introduction of the two sides, allows the actors to bounce back dialogue, display different types of fear, and create a connection between two men looking for a chance to survive. Finding remorse for the sinners is painful and you see it in Tobias, weighing his options to keep himself and passengers alive. 

All in all, 7500 is a tight and intense thriller. It may be lacking in a bit more depth and has a third act that slows down too much, but it’s not without a strong final result. The work from director Patrick Vollrath is an impressive take and especially an engaging movie to watch during the pandemic. Most movies that portray acts of terror, scenarios that can happen any day, create an honest fear inside the viewer.  7500 is worth the time, always thrilling, and a nice welcome back to JGL. 



Written by: Leo Brady

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