by Rob DiCristino
Minor spoilers ahead.
There is a basic cinematic language to most skybound thrillers: Glory shots of the aircraft in flight emphasize its grandeur and power. Close-ups scanning over the faces of the flight crew and air traffic controllers convey the split-second thinking and engineering expertise required by their work. We see the passengers fend for their lives through shaky handheld angles that tip and roll as the airplane careens toward certain doom. Dramatic music swells as the brave pilots (or passengers, or US presidents) make their heroic stand against whatever force opposes them. All the while, we feel the claustrophobia of the cabin and the existential terror of hurtling thousands of feet through the open sky. No matter the dramatic device — engine failure, terrorism, disgruntled felons looking for non-extradition countries — these kinds of thrillers build on our shared air travel experiences and remind us just how close we are to total catastrophe.
And then, without warning — and notably without dramatic ramp-ups in score or editing — a group of hijackers slam their way through the cabin and toward the cockpit door. We’re mid-air, mid-conversation, and Ellis has only a few seconds to push the door closed and help Lutzmann beat back the lone terrorist (Murathan Muslu as Kinan) who has made it inside. Soon, Ellis is alone at the helm, frantically negotiating with air traffic control and watching through cabin monitors as the hijackers use makeshift knives to corral the passengers. Most thrillers would scale up, at this point, introducing a courageous passenger or an engineer on the ground who knows how to regain control of the aircraft. Hell, most thrillers would at least show us the outside of the plane. But 7500 isn’t the kind of bombastic ensemble piece built to reassure us that the system works, that we’re safe in the hands of professionals who built fail-safes into every operation and have a plan for every eventuality. We’re locked in a room with Ellis, and frankly, he’s fucked.