The possibilities of what can be done with film may seem limitless compared to theatre, but many minimalist films look like they could appear on stage. Patrick Vollrath‘s debut feature 7500 is the latest of this type of film, a hijack movie transpiring in real-time within an aircraft cockpit. The amalgamation of all of these things might sound like an intriguing premise, but the final result is unfortunately mundane.
It is apparent to the audience from the start that a hijacking is afoot as the opening of 7500 shows airport surveillance footage of the hijackers passing through security. The film then moves into the cockpit, and the cabin crew arrive. As the pilots go through their routine checks, Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) engages in conversation with Michael (Carlo Kitzlinger), the flight’s captain, Gökce (Aylin Tezel), one of the flight attendants, and Tobias’s partner. Though the dialogue here may seem unengaging partly because it’s delivered so flatly, it does serve its purpose by providing exposition. The attempt to gain control of the plane by the hijackers happens not long after take-off, but Tobias manages to prevent them from doing so and is then involved in a series of events with them.
Vollrath’s direction isn’t particularly groundbreaking, and his script is conventional. 7500 is overladen with monotonous dialogue, and at times is even cliché. The film might have worked better and perhaps engaged an audience more if he focused on the characters’ actions more, rather than this unimpressive dialogue. As it is, the film is not captivating. The cinematography also creates little feeling of being in an enclosed space (other than being darkly lit), and occasionally the framing restricts the view for the audience and becomes visually confusing.
It’s pleasing to see Gordon-Levitt on screen again in a prominent role, and not trying to imitate a real-life personality as he did in a couple of his last performances. The part is unchallenging for someone of his abilities, but his work is good enough. It is questionable why someone of his talent would want to take on a role that is not the least bit demanding, and do a project that does not give a fresh perspective to the hijack movie.
It is unclear what Vollrath’s intentions are with this film. The quote that precedes 7500, “An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind”, seems to serve no purpose. If his point was that revenge only makes the world worse off, then it is unclear where that point is made, and there are surely many other stories that would better explore this theme. The director also offers no motive for the hijackers’ actions, and this also could have been interesting to explore.
Vollrath has had success making German-language shorts focusing on children and families, so it’s odd that he would choose to pursue a project like 7500 for his first feature film. It’s also not the return Gordon-Levitt would have wanted. Hopefully, both will be involved with projects more suited to them in the future. As it stands, 7500 isn’t worth watching, and perhaps it’s better to wait to see what Gordon-Levitt and Vollrath do next.