• Nate Adams

Review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt hijacker thriller '7500' can’t sustain momentum


Courtesy of Amazon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is taking over the obligatory Liam Neeson role in “7500” – a taut and compact thriller that lays a solid foundation before going off the deep end. Things start normal abroad a plane headed for Paris and then all hell breaks loose when a squad of Muslim hijackers – brandishing makeshift glass knives and smashed bottles - attempt to take over the cockpit and crash the plane for all the obvious and stereotypical reasons.

Depictions of Muslims aside – c’mon people, it’s 2020, can’t we do better than showcasing ethnic terrorists wanting to die for their God? – “7500” from director Patrick Vollrath (his debut feature) does try to spruce up the genre with new tactics. For starters, the majority, if not all, of the film takes place inside the confines of the plane’s cockpit with Levitt’s 31-year-old Tobias Ellis communicating with air-traffic control and watching the small monitor behind him. Levitt carries a good portion of the emotional burden, being forced to make one life or death decision after the other. If he doesn’t open the cockpit door, the hijackers will start killing passengers, and, of course, one instance involves his wife, who is a flight attendant, and Levitt must stand-by helplessly devising ways to stop the bloodshed. At one point he instigates the passengers to fight back against the terrorists, in the hopes of starting an uprising.

All those elements in the first 45 minutes are well executed and Vollrath shows the control of a filmmaker who's been making films for decades, despite his script’s wild unoriginality. Where things get dicey is the final leg of the flight where cliché genre tropes manage to rise above the surface (isn’t there always a young terrorist who has second thoughts and decides they can’t go through with the mission?) and the movie fails to stick the landing.

It’s a give and take and the depictions of Muslims are problematic, but you do have to look at “7500” for what it is: A lean 93-minute thriller not trying to be anything other than junk food cinema. Most of the film sits on the shoulders of Levitt who never leaves the screen and his impulses feel right on the nose. Part of the thrills are watching a man on the brink of a mental collapse make these decisions in real time and the results that come thereafter. So, it’s a bummer the film nosedives in the last half-hour, sucking all the oxygen and adrenaline out of the cockpit, when it would seem each move had been calculated for maximum efficiency until that point.

There’s no doubt that “7500” is made with competence, but you’d rather leave with the sense of having witnessed something other than a slightly above average thriller that can’t sustain momentum.

Grade: C+


7500 lands on AMAZON PRIME VIDEO starting Thursday June 18th.