Experiencing the nightmare of a plane hijacking from the eyes of the abductee is what director Patrick Vollrath does in his real-time thriller 7500 (2019) possible. We reveal in our review whether the end result was good or not so good.
Pilot Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has to keep his nerve in this heated situation.
The plot summary
A flight from Berlin to Paris. Everyday work in the cockpit of an Airbus A319. Co-pilot Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) routinely prepares the plane for departure. The start goes smoothly as always. But then you hear screaming in the cabin. A group of young men, including eighteen-year-old Vedat (Omid Memar), try to break into the cockpit. A battle begins between the crew and the attackers, a test between the desire to save individual lives and prevent even greater damage. The cockpit door becomes a battle zone and Tobias finds himself in the position of having to decide between life and death…
7500 Explanation of the ending
In international aviation, the number combination 7500 is the emergency code for a plane hijacking. Patrick Vollrath’s first feature film directing work (after directing eight short films, one of which was Oscar-nominated) bears this title and no additional or additional title for a reason. In his thriller drama, shot almost in real time, everything focuses on exactly this one topic. We experience the horror scenario of a plane napping from the perspective of a pilot. And exclusively. This means: Similar to last year’s genre entry “The Guilty”, in “7500” there is only a single identifying figure through whose eyes we experience the horror around us. The radius of perception is limited to the aircraft cabin, which is just a few square meters in size. The protagonist perceives what is happening in the passenger compartment of the aircraft or in the small area between the passenger and pilot cabin via a small monitor on behalf of the viewer. It’s hard to imagine a situation like this being more visually limited and emotionally helpless. Vollrath makes full use of this consciously reduced concept and for a long time does not allow himself to be tempted to overflow from his “’The Guilty’ above the clouds” into “Non-Stop” -like realms. Nevertheless, opinions will differ when it comes to the consistently formulated ending.
Tobias’ girlfriend Gökce (Aylin Tezel) falls victim to the kidnappers.
“7500” begins shortly before the passenger plane that is the focus of the film takes off from Berlin to Paris. The particularly technical processes shown here seem routine. Through a few snatches of conversation with his girlfriend Gökce (Aylin Tezel), who is working as a stewardess on this flight, we only learn about the co-pilot Tobias, who later becomes an identification figure, that he is a family man and that choosing the right daycare center currently plays an important role in his life plays in his partner’s life. The script, written by Patrick Vollrath himself, also hints at cultural differences early on. For example, the proportion of foreigners in one of the son’s possible daycare centers becomes a point of discussion; something that is revisited elsewhere later in “7500.” But then in a completely different context. Once you’ve finished watching “7500”, you’ll notice such dialogues as early pinpricks, while at the time of watching they’ll only be perceived as largely inconsequential side notes. Because Vollrath and his team are primarily concerned with the first-hand experience of a plane hijacking, once they uncover the underlying reasons, a broad basis for discussion opens up that one can find either pretty flat or just right. The fact that Senad Halilbasic, who comes from Yugoslavia, was also involved in the story development at least reveals that the eyes of different cultures looked at the course of the story.
“Early on, the script written by Patrick Vollrath himself also hints at cultural differences. For example, the proportion of foreigners in one of the son’s possible daycare centers becomes a point of discussion; something that will be revisited elsewhere later in “7500.”
This knowledge of this feels quite important when you consider the one-sided reasons Vollrath gives for hijacking the plane. Nevertheless, he stages the kidnapping itself as a highly exciting, psychologically and physically violent act, the exact course of which takes place most of the time exclusively in the viewer’s head. What exactly the plane nappers are doing to the passengers and the on-board staff is only seen in very isolated moments – for example when one of the terrorists positions Tobias’ girlfriend Gökce directly in front of the camera placed directly in front of the cockpit and threatens her with a knife. Patrick Vollrath repeatedly stages moments in which the already constant threat becomes a little more threatening and the main character feels compelled to take direct action. The fact that “7500” never goes all out and that Tobias turns from an overwhelmed victim who struggles to keep track and calm into a Liam Neeson-like avenging angel is due to the targeted script. Vollrath’s film is not about constructed genre moments, but about capturing an authentic threatening situation. This not only demands (surprising) sacrifices, but also the will of the audience to engage in this very special viewing experience, which does not always show what you would actually see in a large mainstream production of a similar caliber and here and there with that the tormenting idleness that occurs in such an unpleasant situation.
Lead actor Joseph Gorden-Levitt (“The Walk”) He has the difficult task of carrying the film completely on his shoulders after about half an hour. In every scene at least the face of the delicate mime can be seen on the screen. Accordingly, he has to put in a lot of acting effort, which the Los Angeles-born actor always manages to do. His Tobias is not a hero who eventually outgrows himself, but rather a completely normal person who makes calculations for the well-being of others. He is particularly convincing in the moments when Gorden-Levitt is on the verge of collapse. Opposite him are performances of intimidating physicality, whose character development only seems fake. Murathan Muslu, who appears here in the roles of terrorists (“Pelican Blood”)Paul Wollin (“Toro”) and Omid Memar (“Five Friends 4”) remain reduced to the terrorists’ purpose until the end.
“The main character is not a hero who surpasses himself, but rather a completely normal person who makes calculations for the well-being of others. He is particularly convincing in the moments when Joseph Gorden-Levitt is on the verge of collapse.”
In the last third, those involved make an effort to explain the antagonists’ motives in more detail – without any false expression of sympathy, but with the clear statement that people with such evil mentalities are clearly despicable, poor sausages. But in the end that’s a bit too little considering the culture in which Vollrath locates his villains here. This could once again add fuel to the fire rather than promote new perspectives. Although that doesn’t change the fact that “7500” works extremely well as a thriller.
Conclusion: As a plane hijacking thriller, the very reduced but no less exciting “7500” works excellently. However, as a political commentary, Patrick Vollrath’s feature film debut should not be taken at face value.
“7500” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from December 26th.