CREDIT: Amazon Studios

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Omid Memar, Murathan Muslu, Aylin Tezel

Director: Patrick Vollrath

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Rating: R for A Visceral Approach to Hijacking

Release Date: June 18, 2020 (Amazon Prime Video)

My main reaction to the hijacking thriller 7500 is, “Did it take 18 years to make this movie?” In 2002, a movie about religious extremist terrorists taking over a plane would have been arriving way too soon for American audiences. A few years later, it would have been part of a cinematic reckoning with a post-9/11 world. But now that 7500 is arriving to Amazon Prime viewers in 2020, it feels like it is a relic of at least three eras ago. In a world run roughshod by climate change, a resurrection of populist fascism, and a deadly pandemic, terrorism is hardly the number one fear keeping people up at night that it was in the past couple decades.

Despite all that, a movie does not necessarily have to speak to its times to be an effective white-knuckle pressure-cooker. So when viewed within the context of itself, 7500 is at least admirably efficient and budget-conscious. There are only a handful of characters, and the way things commence, chances are they won’t all still be there by the end. On this flight from Berlin to Paris, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays American co-pilot Tobias, who manages to quickly lock off the cockpit from the terrorists, but things quickly turn to Moral Quandary Territory when the hijackers start taking hostages, including Tobias’ flight attendant girlfriend. Gordon-Levitt’s fundamental decency allows us to trust that he will figure a way out of this crisis, and focusing on his near-solitary struggle makes for a propulsive first act.

But from that point on, 7500 doesn’t have anywhere to go. Literally. The only goal of the moment becomes finding the closest option to make an emergency landing, and accordingly the only tension comes from whether or not Tobias can wait out the terrorists’ demands long enough to avoid any massive tragedy. Eventually the film settles into a sort of odd couple-style buddy picture as the immediate threat of violence dies down and the conflict becomes more existential. Ultimately then, what starts off as a somewhat intriguing setup peters out into a fizzling resolution that isn’t especially compelling with what it’s trying to say.

7500 is Recommended If You Like: Walls between combatants

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Cockpits