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Film Review: “7500” Initially Flies but Then Nosedives

Written by: Christopher Llewellyn Reed | June 17th, 2020

Film poster: “7500”

7500 (Patrick Vollrath, 2019) 1 out of 4 stars. 

A terrorist drama set in the skies, 7500 starts out well before devolving into a maudlin, hackneyed tale of unhappy Muslims wreaking vengeance on the West. What interesting character development there is, early on, quickly flies out the cockpit window as the truth of what we witness becomes clear. Though the filmmakers make a bland attempt to explore the motivations of the attackers, the film ultimately traffics in too many unfortunate stereotypes to justify its existence.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Snowden) plays Tobias Ellis, an American pilot living in Germany (this is a German production, hence that set-up) who is first officer on a flight departing Berlin for Paris. On board is his flight-attendant girlfriend (mother to his child), as well as the captain and a planeload of passengers, some of whom, it will turn out, have plans that do not involve landing at the expected destination. We know they’re on board as we see them in an opening sequence shot from the perspective of airport security cameras. Something is afoot, potentially involving liquor bottles purchased from duty-free shops.

Sure enough, shortly after takeoff, a group of men storm the cockpit. Up to this point, the mise-en-scène has been quite effective, with Gordon-Levitt and his costars delivering the framework in effective, terse sequences. The attack and its aftermath is also quite gripping. So far, so good. Score a point for Act I.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 7500 @Amazon Studios

But then the follow-through falls short, the initial adrenaline dropping off and the dialogue revealing that there’s nothing below the surface beyond the same, tired racial/ethnic profiling we’ve seen before. In addition, we are forced to watch extremely unpleasant murders, all for the sake of a payoff that adds nothing to the affair. My recommendation is to stay for the first leg and then change flights.


Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator, as well as Film Festival Today's Editor. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, Chris is, in addition, lead film critic at Hammer to Nail and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice.

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