7500 (2019)

Director: Patrick Vollrath
Writer: Patrick Vollrath
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Omid Memar, Aylin Tezel, Carlo Kitzlinger, Max Schimmelpfennig, Murathan Muslu
Seen on: 22.1.2020

Content Note: (anti-muslim) racism

Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the co-pilot for a flight from Berlin. Everything is going fine with the preparations, but as soon as the machine is up in the air, all hell breaks loose. A few men try to take over the plane. There are strict protocols for a situation like this, but as Tobias quickly learns when you’re actually faced with having to apply those protocols, things are far from clear-cut.

7500 is a tight thriller with an excellent performance by Gordon-Levitt that taps into an often-conjured scenario in a realistic way. I am a little hesitant if it really manages to work against the anti-muslim sentiments that come with that scenario, but at least it tries very much to do so.

The film poster showing the co-pilot Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in the cockpit.

7500 is both literally and metaphorically tight: on the one hand, pretty much all of it takes place in the cramped space of the plane’s cockpit, on the other things happen quickly and the movie gets straight to the point. Thus the film echoes that none of the characters here have a lot of room to maneuver. They are all trapped.

The film shows that this is not only true for Tobias, but also for the abductors who feel that they don’t have any other options anymore than to become the anti-muslim stereotype they are constantly faced with in a racist society. It also tries very hard to humanize at least one of the hijackers, a young man called Vedat (Omid Memar) who is shown to have doubts about the entire thing, who gets a call from his mother in the middle of the abduction, who can’t take it to have Tobias look at him while he has to pee.

Co-pilot Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) looking worriedly at a screen.

How effective that attempt to counteract anti-muslim stereotypes really is, is questionable though. What it boils down to is that we get yet another instance of peril for the whites through men who shout Allahu Akbar. That one of the victims is (half?) Turkish and that one of the abductors may be a German convert (or maybe not, I’m absolutely not sure) doesn’t change that – and I found myself wishing that it was (German) right wingers who abducted the plane instead. Because they are the biggest threat right now. They are the real terrorists.

Despite my misgivings, the film was definitely good enough to keep my attention. Gordon-Levitt gives a fantastic performance and the film uses its runtime well. But my doubt about the film remains.

Kenan (Murathan Muslu) tries to motivate Vedat (Omid Memar).

Summarizing: good, but hm.

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