Film Critic
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a co-pilot tasked with saving a hijacked plane
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a co-pilot tasked with saving a hijacked plane
  • Dir: Patrick Vollrath; Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Omid Memar, Aylin Tezel, Carlo Kitzlinger, Murathan Muslu. 89 mins

Anyone nostalgic for air travel can pop a pill this week and remedy that, quick. The pill is 7500, a harrowing in-flight thriller set entirely in the cockpit of a passenger plane flying from Berlin to Paris, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the helm when four Turkish terrorists try to storm the controls. 

7500 is a code you ideally wouldn’t want to hear in mid-air, because it means you’ve been hijacked. This well-executed debut from German director Patrick Vollrath knows the value of confinement: other than some airport CCTV footage at the start, showing the attackers preparing to board, it sticks ruthlessly behind the locked door where American co-pilot Tobias (Gordon-Levitt) and his German captain (Carlo Kitzlinger) manage to barricade themselves.

三级成人视频The latter has been mortally wounded. One of the four Turks has barged his way through but been knocked unconscious, leaving only Tobias, who’s been stabbed in the arm, to communicate with air traffic control. An emergency landing in Hanover is the safest solution, but the remaining hijackers have no interest in landing the plane – they intend to crash it, causing maximum carnage – and set about battering the door with everything they can find. When that doesn’t work, they grab a hostage and hold broken glass to his throat.

Tobias can only see their threats on the small screen on his side of the door, where many of the film’s most gruelling moments play out – with no music, and no colour, just these blue-ish, depersonalised digital images. It feels like Vollrath has seen enough Michael Haneke chillers to know how unsettling low-res footage can be; indeed, he began his career learning from the man himself, in Haneke’s class at Vienna’s Film Academy.

Tobias is strictly forbidden by airline procedure from opening the door, no matter what. And he knows something the attackers don’t, which is that one of the air stewards, played by German actress Aylin Tezel, is the mother of his child. This is a brutal ratcheting up of the personal stakes, and maybe a notch in the implausibility column.

The terrorists are one-note heavies, except for Vedat (Omid Memar), a terrified 18-year-old in the others’ thrall, who freaks out. Acting like a cornered animal doesn’t make him any less dangerous, and holding this kid back from outright panic becomes the main task Tobias has to shoulder, even in the midst of getting the plane down in driving rain.

Vollrath opens with a Gandhi quote – “An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind” – but that’s about as far as his film progresses by way of political messaging. In fact, that quote implicitly undermines the terrorists’ own justifications, when one of them refers to Muslim children being bombed and killed by the West on a daily basis. As a fictitious scenario, this was never going to match the docudrama urgency – however speculative – of a United 93, the rough arc of which it follows.

三级成人视频Within its basic parameters, though, it’s tautly effective. Gordon-Levitt gives a no-bells-and-whistles performance that knuckles down to the ghastly circumstances: there are no showy monologues, just a mounting despair and fury he controls with white knuckles on the landing controls. Vollrath proves it’s not hard to drum up suspense in a cockpit – we could probably have guessed that. But he also proves he can commit to a stripped-down genre concept without getting in his own way, and that's a rarer skill these days than it should be.

7500 is out Friday on Amazon Prime