For some movies, there’s no right time for a release.
Being streamed on Amazon Prime starting this week, “7500” is one of those movies where you wonder what drove the filmmakers into putting it in production. And yet, it has some merit.
Essentially a bottle episode of a thriller, “7500” spends most of its time in the cockpit of a commercial flight out of Berlin that’s co-piloted by Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
The movie starts off flipping through multiple security cameras, with the only sound being the buzz of that grainy, closed-circuit film. People get wanded down, sit around on their phones or order coffees — a pretty typical day. There’s an underlying tension in the quietness of that footage, likely coming from movies and shows like “24” and “United 93,” that something bad is about to happen, whether it’s an explosion or an outburst of violence.
After giving the audience some surface-level dialogue about girlfriends and what’s on the menu, the plane takes off and, in turn, the movie immediately speeds up as Turkish, self-proclaimed Muslim terrorists stab a flight attendant and attempt to hijack the cockpit.
Able to incapacitate a hijacker and lock himself in the cockpit, Ellis is forced to negotiate and try to outsmart the terrorists, using only a phone and in-cabin camera to a communicate with them.
There’s an Alfred Hitchcock quality to all of this, as the constant drumming of the hijackers on the cockpit door replaces a score, while Ellis is forced to juggle a series of threats, from that knocked-out hjiacker tied up in the corner to his injured co-pilot to trying to save the lives of his passengers, whose lives are routinely used as collateral for the hijackers to get inside the cockpit.
The directing debut of German filmmaker Patrick Vollrath, he’s unflinching in his ability to put the audience in the cockpit and feel the pain and tension with every decision Ellis has to make. His ability to ratchet up the tension, while trying to add some humanity to the chaos, reminded me of director Paul Greengrass’ successes in doing the same in movies like “Captain Phillips” and the previously mentioned “United 93.” It helps that the leads, Gordon-Levitt and Omid Memar, playing a young Turkish teen roped into the takeover, are able to flesh out their characters with natural ease.
With that said, there has to be a darn good reason to make a movie about Muslim terrorists hijacking a plane in 2020. What that could be, I couldn’t tell you and neither can “7500.” Where a movie like “Captain Phillips” was able to communicate the pain and desperation of its hijackers, this goes for the lowest-hanging fruit we’ve seen in every thriller and CBS drama that involves Muslims (our overindulgent mindset, violent society, revenge, etc.). It’s shockingly lazy.
“7500” might work as a good highlight reel to show Vollrath’s talents as a capable, dramatic director. But its cold, abrupt ending shows it doesn’t have much to say that we haven’t already seen and heard in a better way.
‘7500’ will be streaming exclusively
on Amazon Prime Video on Friday.