7500 is about one man, sitting in a locked room and trying to prevent a disaster.
Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an American pilot who lives in Berlin. From the minute we first see him entering the cockpit of the plane that he’s going to co-pilot from Berlin to Paris, he seems to be someone who has his life together. He moves with the confidence of someone who knows how to do his job and who doesn’t have a single worry that anything could go wrong. His girlfriend and the mother of his son, Gokce (Aylin Tezel), is a flight attendant on the plane but they both go out of their way to keep things strictly professional whenever they’re working. In many ways, they seem like the perfect couple. I’ve flown a lot and I would feel totally confident if I saw Tobias and Gokce working on my flight.
However, shortly after the plane takes off, things go terribly wrong. Terrorists attempt to break into the cockpit. Though Tobias is able to force them out and lock the cockpit door, he’s stabbed in the arm while doing so. His co-pilot is also injured and quickly loses consciousness. Now, while suffering from blood loss, Tobias has to fly the plane with one arm and negotiate with the terrorists, who are threatening to kill passengers and flight attendants (including Gokce) unless Tobias unlocks the door and allow them to enter the cockpit.
It’s an intense film. With the exception of some airport security footage at the start of the film, all of the action takes place in that cockpit. For the most part, we know only what Tobias knows. We don’t know how many terrorists there are on the other side of the cockpit door. We don’t know how serious they are when they threaten to start randomly killing passengers. We also don’t know if Tobias is going to be able to safely land the airplane. We certainly hope that he’ll be able to land it and the rules of Hollywood have conditioned us to expect a happy ending but, from the beginning, it’s established that 7500 is not a typical Hollywood action film. Just because Tobias and Gokce are a likable couple and both are doing their best under the worst circumstances imaginable, there’s never any guarantee that they’re going to survive.
A lot of how you react to this film is going to depend on how much you like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s on-screen for the entire 92-minute running time. We see all of the action through his eyes and we watch as he goes from being soft-spoken and confident to being increasingly desperate and emotional. Gordon-Levitt gives a bravura performance, perfectly capturing not only Tobais’s fear but also his innate professionalism. No matter how bad things get (and they do get pretty bad as the film progresses), he never forgets that everyone on the plane is depending on him to get them safely to the ground.
The film takes an interesting turn when Tobias shares a few moments when a younger terrorist who seems to be ambivalent about what he’s doing. I wasn’t quite expecting that but it was a nice touch and Omid Memar did a good job of playing the character. Ultimately, though, 7500 works best as a showcase for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and he delivers.