Per­for­mances soar in lean, tense tale of hi­jacked air­liner

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - THIS WEEKEND - BY MICHAEL O’SUL­LI­VAN The Washington Post

As the co-pi­lot of a hi­jacked com­mer­cial air­liner deal­ing with an in­jured arm and moral dilem­mas af­ter his cap­tain (Carlo Kit­zlinger) is killed, Joseph Gordon-Le­vitt de­liv­ers a com­mand­ing per­for­mance in “7500,” a lean, ad­mirably tense thriller that, dur­ing a nail­bit­ing hour and a half, takes place al­most en­tirely be­hind the locked door of the cock­pit.

But although he’s alone in at­tempt­ing to guide the plane to an emer­gency land­ing while deal­ing with threats to hostages, the ac­tor is joined in pi­lot­ing the film to its sat­is­fy­ing, if somber, con­clu­sion by a young per­former you’ve likely never heard of: Omid Me­mar, play­ing a fright­ened, am­biva­lent teenage hi­jacker.

Me­mar doesn’t re­ally step to the fore un­til the film’s nerve-wrack­ing third act, but his in­tense, con­flicted per­for­mance is every bit as good as Gordon-Le­vitt’s, un­der the as­sured di­rec­tion of Pa­trick Voll­rath. (Voll­rath’s pre­vi­ous claim to fame was the Os­car-nom­i­nated 2015 live-ac­tion short “Ev­ery­thing Will Be Okay.” This marks the Ger­man direc­tor’s solid, spare fea­ture de­but.)

There are no forced the­atrics or false hero­ics in “7500,” which Voll­rath co-wrote with Se­nad Halil­ba­sic: For much of the film, Gordon-Le­vitt’s To­bias is alone in the cock­pit, save for one un­con­scious hi­jacker, whom To­bias has bound with tape (Mu­rathan Muslu), and the body of the dead pi­lot. On the other side of the door — seen only in grainy yet har­row­ing black-and white se­cu­rity-cam­era footage — are a few hi­jack­ers, armed only with knives fash­ioned from bro­ken glass. That’s enough for them to use against some of the plane’s 85 pas­sen­gers and a cou­ple of crew mem­bers, in­clud­ing a flight at­ten­dant (Aylin Tezel) who is To­bias’ fi­ancee

‘7500’

3 stars (out of 4) Cast: Joseph Gordon-Le­vitt, Carlo Kit­zlinger, Omid Me­mar, Mu­rathan Muslu, Aylin Tezel

Play­ing: Ama­zon Prime Video

Rated: R (for vi­o­lence, ter­ror and crude lan­guage)

Run­ning time: 1:32

and the mother of their young son.

For most of the film, we know only what To­bias knows, which isn’t much: The Mus­lim hi­jack­ers haven’t made any de­mands other than to be let in­side the cock­pit, on whose door they bang with a drum­beat-like ur­gency that height­ens the drama. He can’t do that, of course. Reg­u­la­tions in­sist that the cock­pit door un­der no cir­cum­stances be opened, no mat­ter what is hap­pen­ing on the other side. Not ini­tially know­ing what the ter­ror­ists hope to achieve, or even their pol­i­tics — although they can be sur­mised fairly eas­ily — also adds to the sense of im­me­di­acy.

“7500” is, at heart, a cham­ber piece. The set­ting, the num­ber of char­ac­ters and the setup are all con­strained in an el­e­gant yet dra­mat­i­cally ef­fec­tive way that be­lies the film’s low bud­get. There’s a taut, piano wire-like qual­ity to its sim­plic­ity: None of the drama comes from ac­tion-movie cliches, but rather from the ac­tors, along with the dis­em­bod­ied voices of an air traf­fic con­troller, a po­lice of­fi­cer and oth­ers. There’s a sick­en­ing sense of help­less­ness that hangs over the first film’s first hour.

When Me­mar, as the re­luc­tant 18-year-old hi­jacker Ve­dat, fi­nally ends up on screen alone with Gordon-Le­vitt, the film be­comes a spine-tin­gling two-han­der, a tale told in glances, not gra­tu­itous may­hem.

Where it goes, and how it gets there, may sur­prise — or even dis­ap­point — you, if you’re used to more con­ven­tional nar­ra­tives. “7500” can also be hard to take at times. But the film’s thought-pro­vok­ing, even quiet fi­nale is worth it.

AMA­ZON STU­DIOS

A hurt co-pi­lot (Joseph Gordon-Le­vitt) tries to make an emer­gency land­ing with ter­ror­ists on board in “7500.”

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