Taking the well-worn ‘terrorists on a plane’ format but giving it at more thoughtful slant rather than gung-ho action heroics, 7500 (debuting on Amazon Prime) is a welcome return to the screen for Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Claustrophobic (the bulk of the film takes place in the plane’s cockpit so I had to get that in there somewhere) and with characters painted in shades of grey rather than the simplistic black and white often used, the film marks an auspicious feature debut for director Patrick Vollrath (who also co-writes).

Gordon-Levitt stars as Tobias Ellis, an American pilot based in Germany, about to embark on a humdrum flight from Berlin. Not long after take-off though things take a turn for the very worst when a group of terrorists attempt to seize control off the craft.

Even worse for Ellis, one of the plane’s cabin crew just happens to be his partner – and they have a child. Should the American – along with his German co-pilot – allow the terrorists in to the cockpit to take control? Or does he refuse, flying the plane to the nearest airport of Hanover – even though that means the terrorists may kill his partner – and the other passengers?

That quandary is the central focus of 7500 (which is a code used by pilots to signal they have been hijacked in case you’re interested) and Vollrath is to be commended for allowing all sides of the scenario to breathe.

Yes, of course, the terrorists are the ‘bad guys’ and Ellis is cast in the role of hesitant ‘hero’, but the bulk of the film plays out as a face-off/conversation between Ellis and teenage terrorist Vedat (Omid Memar).

And it is here that Vollrath’s film really scores, as 7500 allows us a more nuanced version of a ‘terrorist’, one that has doubts, is conflicted, angry – and still taking advice from his mother.

Both Ellis and Vedat are caught in a situation they do not really know how to handle – and we have no real idea how the film will eventually play out.

Nuanced it may be, but do not think 7500 skimps on the suspense – in fact the film is terrifically tense. And Vollrath does not shy away from the violence either, the difference being the violence really ‘means something’ and therefore becomes far more hard-hitting than any cartoonish action extravaganza.

The performances are great all round, from Gordon-Levitt’s mild-mannered pilot who finds himself in the mother of all bad situations, to Memar’s Vedat, a fidgeting, sweating, confused terrorist desperate to take some sort of control.

7500 is a thrilling ride, spending as much time on the characters as driving the story forward – and marks out Vollrath as someone to watch.

Movie Review: 7500
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle