7500 opens with unsettling surveillance footage at Berlin airport, indicating just how difficult it is to spot potential hijackers. Shortly afterwards we meet the crew of a commercial aeroplane, which includes First Officer Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon Levitt) and his stewardess fiancé Gocke (Aylin Tezel). Everything seems normal, but as we already sense from the surveillance footage, something is about to go pear-shaped.
The title refers to a hijacking code, not an altitude. The hijacking in question occurs as an attempted cockpit invasion shortly after take-off. An initial violent encounter leaves the Captain dying, Tobias injured, and one of the hijackers in the cockpit unconscious, whilst the others attempt to break down the door and/or threaten to murder passengers.
Writer/director Patrick Vollrath and co-writer Senad Hasilbasic opt for Greengrass-style realism, including sound design based around authentic plane noises. It is also shot more or less in real time, with pretty much the entire film taking place in the cockpit. This claustrophobic, all-in-one technique works well enough for the most part, with some effective shocks and a gripping central performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Unfortunately, the film loses momentum in a somewhat muted finale. Nor does it ever quite reach the armrest gripping intensity of fact-based films like United 93 and Captain Phillips, which it is clearly trying to emulate. That said, as a stripped-down, cinematic exercise in all-in-one suspense, 7500 delivers the genre goods. It’s just a shame the current Covid situation meant it couldn’t be seen on a big screen, where I suspect it would have felt more immersive than in my sitting room.
UK Certificate: 15
US Certificate: R
Content Warnings: Violence, swearing, disturbing scenes.