7500 (Amazon Prime) – movie review

The opening scenes of 7500 are silent, showing airport security footage of a group of people about to board a commercial night flight from Berlin to Paris.  Take note of who you are seeing.

American pilot Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is tasked to transport eighty souls on what is a regular shuttle, the one hour passenger flight between Germany to France.  In command is an experienced senior pilot, and further back in the plane is Ellis’s partner, tonight in service as part of the cabin crew.

Other than the first few minutes, all of the action in 7500 is filmed in the cockpit with an occasional view of the void just on the other side of the internal door. This is where the cabin crew can pick up the phone to talk to the pilots, and the pilots can view this front section of the plane via a small monitor.

Everything we first see is going as one might expect, until the viewer’s eyes are drawn to a corner of the curtain that blocks the view of the passengers of the cockpit doors. This curtain keeps moving, as someone is evidently keeping an eye on what is going on with the crew at the business end of the plane.  Ten minutes into the flight, the cockpit is rushed by the hijackers.

We haven’t seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt grace the screen for a few years but it would be safe to say that the American actor would still be considered a major drawcard as the lead of an action thriller.  Gordon-Levitt’s pared down intensity is a perfect fit for a film set in such a confined space as the cockpit of a plane.

Grainy camera images of this outer area immediately behind the flight deck are used to terrifying effect.  The cockpit monitor plus the occasional astonished mutterings coming in from air traffic control are the only interruptions outside a tiny tech filled space that now contains a dead captain, a restrained terrorist, and one badly injured co-pilot.

We desperately wish to see the stoic multi-tasking co-pilot snarl and lose his composure and it takes the threat of passengers being killed unless Ellis opens the cockpit door to do it.  This creates a screeching tension of its own, as Ellis incrementally hardens his resolve, rapidly thinking through all possibilities whilst fighting for his own life and that of the remaining passengers.

One room thrillers rely heavily on who is in frame for the duration and this can be a hard focus. Ellis’s character is multi-tasking so furiously, constantly assessing new and evolving risks, that he becomes something of a machine.  It’s a second by second nightmare that is almost unbearable to watch until it becomes evident that Ellis is not going to be able to land the plane on his own.  7500 has so many possibilities of death in the sky which are all employed one after the other in a relentlessly stressful pace, throwing all plot devices into the cabin with just the one person to carry it all off.  He does.

Warning: you may not have any of your fingernails left after the viewing of this suffocating and tense little budget thriller.  7500 should successfully deter you from ever taking a flight again (current world dumper fire status permitting).

7500 is streaming now on Amazon Prime.

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