REVIEW: ‘7500’ is a Tense, Suspenseful Distraction

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7500

7500 stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and is written and directed by Patrick Vollrath (Everything Will Be Okay). In 7500, what begins as a routine day in the life of Tobias, a soft-spoken young pilot, becomes a living hell as his plane is attacked by terrorists. When his captain is killed Tobias must suddenly become responsible for every life on board, making impossible decisions and having to single-handedly deliver his passengers and crew to safety.

The basic story of 7500 is an expected foundation for an action film. It’s a premise we’ve seen many times before, with minor details tweaked. What sets 7500 apart is its ability to create incredible tension and bring a grounded quality to the film that makes it exemplary. The film works within a realm that is exciting while being incredibly believable and almost uses the audience’s familiarity with this sort of film as a means of toying with expectations.

7500 has a disarming intro that is brilliant in its simplicity. The film begins on typical shots of an airport security camera. We see the crowds of people moving through security and shots of waiting passengers. Scattered among these shots are obvious reveals of the terrorist plot that will later unfold. The beginning of the film is almost excruciatingly mundane as it goes through the motions of a normal day. We all know that something big is about to go down and, like the unwitting characters, simply have to wait for the action to start.

When shit hits the fan in 7500 it hits hard. The attack on the plane comes out of nowhere and, as a viewer, you are completely caught up in the surprise and terror of the moment. Another testament to that grounded and real feeling that is being created. Initially, in my screening of the film, when the attack happened so early I worried about whether or not the story had any room to grow. Oddly enough, that concern would end up being the film’s greatest strength.

7500

7500 masterfully understands how to slowly up the stakes. The pressure and anxieties that Tobias is under are measured and impactful. The way the film unfolds shows the fatigue and desperation of our hero, more than anything else. Under these insane circumstances, and with greater risk advancing on him, every decision the character makes is even more important. The agony of watching this character wrestle with the responsibility while making these decisions mixes perfectly with the steady rising of the stakes. It’s a fantastic storytelling quality that is lost in most action films. Really well done.

Of course, the entire film absolutely hinges on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s great performance as Tobias. For much of the film, the focus is entirely on the split-second decisions and personal struggle of this young pilot. As an “action hero” Tobias is incredibly refreshing. He’s a departure from the Liam Neeson counterpart that we’re more familiar with. The character of Tobias is soft-spoken, kind, and a devoted father. Through much of the film, we see him in a position of being able to talk things out. Scenes of him being violent or fighting are incredibly rare, though he does defend himself and the plane he’s been charged with. This feels much more realistic and it makes the film all the more compelling. You feel for this kind person, who is now faced with the impossible. An incredibly human performance that absolutely makes the film.

A downside to the realism of 7500 is that things tend to drag. The film has a lot of quiet moments that feel procedural. The action takes a while to get going and the viewer finds themselves stuck in various chapters of the action for what feels like a long time. Personally, this critic doesn’t view that as a negative. It’s another layer of the film’s world. The minutes drag on and it builds tension. It also shows that these sorts of conflicts take place over a series of events, versus the more cinematic formula of building up to the big final showdown.

In a tense time, 7500 is a wonderful distraction. It’s an exciting escape and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance alone is worth a viewing. While it’s unclear whether or not the film will make much of a splash, it is a refreshing departure from the expected. It would be a victory to see more action heroes written like this.

7500 arrives on Prime Video on June 18, 2020.

7500
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

In a tense time, 7500 is a wonderful distraction. It’s an exciting escape and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance alone is worth a viewing. While it’s unclear whether or not the film will make much of a splash, it is a refreshing departure from the expected. It would be a victory to see more action heroes written like this.