Amazon’s 7500 REVIEW – Altitude Not Sustained

Yet another film about a plane hijacked by terrorists.

Amazon’s 7500 is the latest film from director Patrick Vollrath, whose previous film was nominated at the Oscars for Best Short.

It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tobias Ellis, the first officer on a plane that gets hijacked by terrorists. We find out that Tobias is dating one of the air stewardesses, a fact that will surely become relevant as the film unfolds. While there isn’t much time to expand on their relationship, we are given little tidbits, that the two have a child, and that his breath is little funky. I liked that addition; it felt like normal banter between couples.

After that, we are thrown immediately into the action of the terrorists trying to force their way into the cockpit, where Tobias and head pilot Michael (Carlo Kitzlinger) find themselves battling for their lives and valiantly trying to defend the plane from these individuals. Vollrath doesn’t focus much on the agenda of the terrorists. There is a brief mention of sticking it to the West by crashing the plane, but there isn’t much beyond that. This is because 7500 is mostly focused on Tobias, a regular guy and the moral dilemmas he finds himself saddled with as the terrorists use hostages as a way to get him to give up the cockpit. We wonder if he will give in to their demands, and much tension ensues as we watch the showdown between him and the terrorist counterparts.

Vollrath makes the interesting decision to keep the film’s space to that of the cockpit, and the only glimpse we have of the action going on in the rest of the airplane is the small space that lies just outside the cockpit door. Thus, for most of the film, we are tasked with imagining the scenes taking place behind the curtain, which has its merits and its limits.

Being stuck in one space for the course of a film is a challenge – you need to give the audience compelling actors as well as consistently up the stakes. Usually the film is bearable up until the first hour, but after that it gets a tad stale and predictable. This is the same thing that happens with 7500. While the plane is still in the air, there seems to be a more even playing field between Tobias and Vedat (Omid Memar), one of the terrorists. But once the plane lands, Vedat is done for, leaving the tension to leak away.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a complexity to Memar’s Vedat, a young man thrust into a situation that is completely over his head, not even knowing the agenda of his fellow terrorists until the plane has been steered towards a course of self destruction. In him, we see the clash between ideology and a fear of death. Should this even be a dilemma faced for one so young? Memar holds his own against Gordon-Levitt, and his agonising screams contributes much to the tension-filled spaces of the film.

But at the end of the day, there are plenty of films that are based on the same premise, and though 7500 tries to offer a unique take, after the first hour the film takes a nose-dive into very predictable spaces, delivering a rather hollow experience.

Review screener provided.

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Director Patrick Vollrath aims high with his first feature length film, but doesn't quite succeed in driving home a compelling film despite the competent performances of all those involved.