Combustible Celluloid
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With: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Aylin Tezel, Carlo Kitzlinger, Omid Memar, Passar Hariky, Hicham Sebiai, Paul Wollin, Murathan Muslu, Aurélie Thépaut, Cornel Nussbaum, Denis Schmidt
Written by: Patrick Vollrath, Senad Halilbasic
Directed by: Patrick Vollrath
MPAA Rating: R for violence/terror and language
Running Time: 92
Date: 06/18/2020

7500 (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Stressed Pilot

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This intense, white-knuckle thriller uses constricting space and realistic details to generate raw suspense, but at the same time, it never forgets the sobering, tragic seriousness of the situation.

In 7500, American co-pilot Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) takes his seat in the cockpit of a flight out of Berlin. Flight attendant Gökce (Aylin Tezel) sneaks in for a quick chat about their daughter and kindergarten. She tries to be discreet since they have agreed to keep their relationship secret while working. The captain, Michael (Carlo Kitzlinger), arrives, and the pre-flight check is mostly normal.

But not long after takeoff, a group of terrorists wielding glass knives begin to hijack the plane. One gets into the cockpit, wounding both Michael and Tobias, but Tobias knocks him unconscious. Other terrorists begin threatening hostages, one after the other, in order to gain access to the cockpit. Unfortunately for Tobias, Gökce becomes one of them. Can Tobias keep his wits about him and safely land the plane?

A strong feature debut by director and co-writer Patrick Vollrath, 7500 is, incredibly, set entirely inside the cockpit, focusing entirely on Gordon-Levitt, who gives an exhaustively impressive physical and emotional performance. The movie begins with no bombast or fanfare. It's almost banal, as the pilots go through their ordinary routine. But this tone helps establish that a hijacking is no laughing matter, and that we should not expect giddy, enjoyable thrills.

After the initial attack, Vollrath establishes a sickening dread as Tobias recovers and regroups to the sound of violent hammering on the cockpit door, lasting for many minutes. Tension here comes from a place of terror, of waiting, as events keep turning well past anything we might expect.

But perhaps more importantly, death actually means something here — there is no Bruce Willis knocking off bad guys left and right — and two scenes in particular are capable of shocking viewers into stunned silence. 7500 is a wrenching, bracing experience, but it's also a humane movie that is capable of leaving viewers thinking about the significance of life.

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