I don’t want to get too cranked about Patrick Vollrath’s 7500, a terrorist-plane-hijack thriller that’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Because as good as it is, it’s nowhere near the level of Paul Greengrass‘s United 93 — by any measure the gold-standard in this realm.

A poor man’s version of that brilliant 2006 film, 7500 is claustrophically designed (the whole thing takes place in a pilot compartment of a commercial jet during a Berlin-to-Paris flight) and technically effective as far as it goes. It held me in its grip, and I understand why Indiewre‘s Eric Kohn has called it “the most exciting cinematic ride of the year so far.”

But at the same time I was feeling a wee bit irritated by Joseph Gordon Levitt‘s performance as Tobias Ellis, an overly emotional, bordering-on-girlyman co-pilot coping with a team of 9/11-styled fanatics. (By the way, did you know that “Muslim hijackers” is a “racist trope” and that a film that serves up same is dealing in “antiquated stereotypes“?)

The initial storming of the cabin results in the death of the pilot (Carlo Kitzlinger‘s “Michael”) but also with JGL managing to bludgeon a would-be hijacker into unconsciousness as well as keep the other two baddies out by locking the cabin door.

It then becomes a question of whether or not the most belligerent of the two lock-outs can goad JGL into opening the door in order to save the lives of two hostages with knives at their throats — a passenger and a flight attendant named Gokce (Aylin Tezel) who happens to be JGL’s wife.

We know as well as JGL that if the hijackers get into the cabin they’ll crash the jet into the middle of a major city and kill God knows how many people. Letting them in is therefore not an option. And yet director-writer Vollrath tries to wring emotional tension out of the fact that Gokce’s throat will be slit if JGL doesn’t open up…”oh, no…oh, please!”

Do you not understand the basics, Vollrath (and for that matter JGL)? The terrorists don’t get into the cockpit, and so as much as it makes us sad and anguished I’m afraid it’s “hasta la vista, baby” as far as Gokce is concerned.

A cowardly man might say “oh, no, my poor wife is going to be killed, but maybe I can save her life by allowing the terrorists into the cockpit and letting them fly the plane into the Eiffel Tower.” Only a whining, squeeky little mouse would think that way, but that’s what JGL does. He frets and grimaces and goes “oooh no, don’t kill her!” as his panicked eyes fill with tears.

Fucking little candy-ass…grow a pair! Have you ever seen a Clint Eastwood film? Learn to snarl.

And then an even bigger candy-ass comes along — Omid Memar‘s “Vedat”, a junior terrorist (18 years old) who’s a bit conflicted about mass murder. JGL senses early on that Vedat isn’t all that hardcore and might even be a soft touch. This leads to a big tussle-in-the-cockpit scene in which Vedat is openly moaning and whimpering about whether or not to thwart his radical colleagues and save the lives of JGL and the passengers. Except the whimpering goes on too long, and I realized about about 30 seconds in that Memar sounds like the crying and moaning Joan Cusack in that control booth panic scene in Broadcast News.

Here’s the Cusack mp3 — the scene itself is after the jump.