THERE have been so many movies set inside an airplane, like “Red Eye” with Rachel McAdams, “Air Force One” with Harrison Ford, “Sully” with Tom Hanks, “Con Air” with Nicolas Cage, “Turbulence” with Ray Liotta, “Snakes on a Plane” with Samuel Jackson, “Flight Plan” with Jodie Foster, the “Airport” series, “United 93” about 9-11, etc. Now comes another one, “7500”, but this one has an even much more limited setting as it all happens right just inside the pilot’s very narrow cockpit.
The title “7500” refers to the Emergency Transponder Code used by air traffic controllers meaning unlawful interference. Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon Levitt) is the first officer of a flight from Berlin to Paris. His captain is Michael Lutzmann (Carlo Kitzlinger) and as soon as their plane is on the air, a flight attendant starts serving them their in-flight meals. Three Muslim terrorists on board take this opportunity while the cockpit door is open to force their way in.
The flight attendant is killed and the captain is stabbed with a broken glass by a terrorist. Tobias fights back, subdues one terrorist with a fire extinguisher, ties him up and regains control of the plane. He also manages to lock the cockpit door so the other two terrorists cannot come in. They try their best to break down the fortified door but they fail to do so.
Tobias is also wounded on the arm but manages to inform ground control station about what’s happening to them and is told to fly to Hanover airport. On the CCTV screen showing what’s happening outside of the cockpit there, Tobias sees the two remaining terrorists threatening to kill a hostaged passenger if he wouldn’t open the cockpit door. He refuses to comply so the passenger is killed.
They take another hostage, this time a female flight attendant named Gokce (Aylin Tezel), who happens to be Tobias’ girlfriend. He pleads not to hurt her but he sees them killing her before his very eyes. Unknown to Tobias, the terrorist he has tied up has managed to free himself and knocks Tobias out. The other terrorists come and one of them is a pilot who then flies the plane. We all know this debacle will surely end in tragedy. The question is: how will Tobias survive it all?
As a thriller happening on real time inside a claustrophobic setting, the movie is the debut of German Director Patrick Vollrath. It is quite well crafted as a real example of cinematic minimalism. The suspense is intense at the start but after a while, the face off between the assistant pilot-first officer and the terrorist quickly hit a snag.
The movie, which uses no musical score, becomes a veritable one-man show for Joseph Gordon Levitt as the airborne crisis spirals out of control and plunges him into dark moments of agony. But even his convincing performance is not enough to entirely redeem the movie from its boring stretches that make the 90-minute movie eventually lose steam.
The movie fails to sustain the nail-biting tension and adrenaline as a pulse-pounder. It looks like the movie itself has gone into autopilot mode and the final act becomes quite familiar like what you’ve seen before in other skybound hostage thrillers.