Joseph Gordon-Levitt headlines an intense, often excellent thriller that’s heading to streaming – and here’s our review of the movie.

There’s an old theory that sometimes, if you want to entertain people in a film, just show the characters going to work. It works a treat for the first act of 7500, as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first officer Tobias Ellis and his captain prepare an aircraft for take-off. They’re at the controls for a civil aviation flight across Europe, with the best part of 90 passengers on board. And Patrick Vollrath’s film (that he co-wrote with Send Halilbasic) gives us a cockpit perspective of pre-flight checks and waiting for the late passengers. It’s strangely gripping stuff.

What’s also happening, of course, is that the building blocks of what follows are being slid into place, and a taut thriller ensues. We see, from the cockpit and the security camera to the rest of the plane, a hijacking happen, and the genuine building of tension would be undercut by this review giving too much away. I can say that it’s diligently and carefully put together, and for a while there’s a real sense of not quite knowing how it’s all going to play out.

Credit for that must go in part to the cast of course, in particular Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who carries the bulk of the screentime on his shoulders. We’ve seen him lead films before, of course, and I’m reminded of the hugely underappreciated Premium Rush. Here, his character is faced with difficult decisions, the demands of flying an aircraft, and struggling to control emotions when a plane full of passengers is depending on him. Gordon-Levitt carries it terrifically well.

For an hour of its 90 minutes and a little bit of change, 7500 is an incredibly tense thriller that successfully blinds you to its modest setup and production limitations. It’s only towards the end I started to wonder just how the film had been put together, and as you may have suspected, that’s also when the film loses its grip.

The first problem is the identity of the hijackers, who just feel plucked from the ‘let’s get some stereotypical terrorists’ playbook. It’s uncomfortable, sells the film short, and feels out of step. Secondly, again spoiler-free, there’s something that just lets the air out a little at some point in the film, that just turns it slightly. It’s never less than interesting, to be clear, but it does loosen its grips a little.

From sparse ingredients, Patrick Vollrath has fashioned an impressive thriller, which at its best shames the bulk of modern Hollywood suspense-peddlers. It’s claustrophobic, sets up metaphorical ticking bombs that slowly tighten the screws, and turns something as simple as a constant banging at a door – that sits in the background for much of the film – into a low-key way to ratchet up the tension. Worth seeking out, this one, warts and all.

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