Kidnapping Mr. Heineken (2015)

Action, Crime, Drama
Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, Anthony Hopkins, Jemima West
The inside story of the planning, execution, rousing aftermath and ultimate downfall of the kidnappers of beer tycoon Alfred "Freddy" Heineken, which resulted in the largest ransom ever paid for an individual.
  • 06 Mar 2015 Released:
  • N/A DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • William Brookfield, Peter R. de Vries (author) Writer:
  • Daniel Alfredson Director:
  • N/A Website:

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Turgid and Tedious Thriller5/10
"Kidnapping Freddie Heineken" is just as its title tells us. It is about how a group of five down-and-out young men who pulled off the kidnapping of a noted beer magnate Freddy Heineken in 1983. They were able to demand 35M Dutch guilders (about 16M Euros), the biggest ransom ever paid for a kidnap victim. Will their sudden windfall help them with their most cherished dreams?

This British-Dutch production gathered Hollywood stars to portray the characters in this crime drama. For the kidnappers, they have gathered a group of twenty-something actors who had previously top-billed a number of films on their own already. For the victim, the producers went all out and got a revered senior Oscar-winning actor to play him.

Jim Sturgess is an actor who deserves to break into the big time. He is a chameleon able to disappear into any role he plays. Since his big break in "Across the Universe" in 2007, he has been consistently turning in remarkable performances in films like "21", "Upside Down", and "Cloud Atlas". In this film, he plays the charismatic Cor van Hout, the mastermind behind the Heineken kidnapping. He was able to show more acting depth than the rest of the younger cast, especially since he was also given a pregnant girlfriend to worry about.

Sam Worthington is an Australian actor who came on strong in 2009 to 2010 with the lead roles in major productions like "Avatar" and "Clash of the Titans". His career never really progressed too much in subsequent films after his auspicious Hollywood debut. His star power always felt secondary to the special effects of his big films. In this smaller, quieter, character-driven film, Worthington's screen presence as Willem Holleeder is obviously weaker than those of his co-stars Sturgess and Kwanten.

Ryan Kwanten is another Australian actor. He broke into mainstream consciousness as a regular cast member of the HBO vampire-themed TV series "True Blood" which ran for seven seasons before concluding last year. Kwanten also registers strong on the big screen with punkish charm as Cat Boellaard, who owned the boat house where they hid Heineken.

Those scenes where Sir Anthony Hopkins would be talking to the kidnappers individually were the best of all. The tension in those scenes were so thick with Hopkins chewing into their conscience with his masterful performance as Freddy Heineken. The scenes were definitely the saving moments for this film. Too bad these were only few and far between.

On paper, this sounded like it could be a very interesting crime film. Five complete amateurs in crime dream big, kidnap a multimillionaire and earn a huge payback and then some. How did they pull it off? How did they treat their victim who was their goldmine? What was the aftermath of their actions? Unfortunately, the script by William Brookfield, adapted from the books by Dutch investigative reporter Peter de Vries, was more turgid than exciting. The uneven direction by Daniel Alfredson also failed to make the weak script fly.

The setting is obviously Amsterdam, but the kidnappers talked and behaved like they were London punks. The abduction scene per se was not shot with much cinematic imagination nor verve. Everything was done so seriously, with hardly any sense of humor (except maybe for the Bang Bang chicken scene). The filmmakers were not able to create any moments to really remember it by. In fact, this movie even felt tedious despite its brevity. 5/10.
An enjoyable watch5/10
This film recreates the events behind the kidnapping of the beer tycoon, Mr Heineken, from the reasons of kidnap, planning and execution of the plot, and the ultimate demise of the plot.

"Kidnapping Mr. Heineken" is somehow different from other kidnapping films, but I'm not quite sure what it is. Maybe it's because of the very good character development, the kidnappers are not as completely evil as other films would portray them to be. Maybe it's also because it's told through the perspective of the kidnappers, that sets it different from others. There is also little violence, but the film is still intense and thrilling. I enjoyed watching it, and I'm glad Mr Heineken and the driver were safe in the end.
Fine Hopkins turn in mediocre crime film4/10
Anthony Hopkins lends his name and histrionic talents to uplift an otherwise pedestrian real- life crime thriller KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN. Without his presence this would be just another direct-to-video feature of European origin.

Don't get me wrong -I've been a huge fan of European-made caper and action movies since childhood, growing up watching innumerable dubbed -into-English low-budget imports on TV via syndication packages back in the '60s. At the high end, Jules Dassin's RIFIFI remains the unbeatable greatest caper movie of all time, and the various big-budget, in-joke titles like the original and update series of OCEAN'S ELEVEN are watchable. But give ma a silly Brad Harris-Tony Kendall intl. co-production and I'm in heaven.

With a weak script by William Brookfield, based on Peter de Vries' reportage and book about the beer company magnate's 1982 kidnapping, this film turns out to be lacking in entertainment value. The criminals, a rag-tag group of businessmen/slackers who turn to crime when their unreasonable application for a business loan is turned down, are simply an uninteresting bunch and their reluctance to resort to violence (lethal or otherwise) is morally laudable but leads to dullness - the picture has no sex and no real violence, hardly suitable for today's audiences. And it lacks humor, not even of the Disney or OVER-THE-HILL GANG puerile variety.

Only interesting structural note (which ultimately backfires) is the script's purist approach whereby every scene is presented from the criminals' point-of-view. In a kidnapping story the viewer is used to time-honored cliches regarding the police (or FBI or Interpol) and the victim's family and associates -what they are doing to get Heineken back alive and catch the baddies. But here we have none of this, only scenes about the kidnappers and their apprehension at getting caught. This novel structure (cops only appear sans dialog to pursue or make arrests) violates Hitchcock's famous dictum about suspense -all we get are surprises because we (like the kidnappers) are narratively left in the dark. We never see the net closing in on them, apart from a few red herrings based solely on the criminals' own paranoia.

Jim Sturgess as head kidnapper Cor, a family man with pregnant wife who inexplicably throws all that away to become a fugitive merely longing to return home from his Paris hideout, is empathetic and acts well enough, but can hardly carry a film. The role called for an A-list name, perhaps his supporting co-star Sam Worthington, miscast as Cor's brother-in-law, written as a hothead but unconvincingly played by Sam who the viewer is used to seeing (after AVATAR) as a leading man.

Hopkins in as brief a screen time as won Judi Dench an Oscar for Shakespeare IN LOVE, easily dominates the film with his brief but pungent & idiosyncratic monologues -he gets to speak unanswered because the hooded kidnappers don't want to respond to him verbally at all. You can see the wheels turning in Hopkins' head as he cleverly tries to get into the heads of his adversaries and casting him was a bold stroke (probably the reason Worthington signed on to an unpromising project at this stage in his career).

I did not like the camera-work and editing of the movie, especially during action & chase scenes such as a boat vs. cars sequence on Amsterdam's canals after the boys had robbed a bank delivery van to raise capital for their big Heineken snatch score. And the musical score is horrendous, sounding like a distant copy of those classic 1970s British action movie scores, notably echo-chamber brilliance for Roy Budd's GET CARTER (a movie by Mike Hodges that was among my very favorite films when I saw it several times in 1971 in first-run).

Regarding film's factual basis, that issue is irrelevant to me - I love both LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI regardless of either's allegiance to the original text. HEINEKEN merely proves that a purely fictional movie has more leeway to be entertaining and fanciful - the details here are pretty mundane, the degree of jeopardy for Heineken and his also-kidnapped chauffeur being minimal. The actual bank heist and people snatching are over in seconds, robbing the viewer of the fun which crime caper movies (TOPKAPI, RIFIFI) can provide, even in a silly one like Connery/Zeta-Jones' ENTRAPMENT. And the decision to make HEINEKEN the usual faux-British movie with all principal roles given British accents and speaking English (why not Dutch accents, as Holland with Derek De Lint, Rutger Hauer and endless beautiful actresses has the best English-speaking talent in all of Continental Europe) hurts its real-life credibility. I half expected a certain class of characters here to speak Cockney like Hollywood movies used to do in the 1930s for working-class characters in German or Russian set stories.
Nice Friday-night-movie5/10
Based on a true story this is the 21st film by Sweedish director Daniel Alfredson, an unknown to the general public, apart from being involved in the Millennium Movies and TV series, he is still an unknown outside Europe.

Anthony Hopkins is the major star in this film an with some short appearances he grabs the screen, this movie without him it wasn't a movie.

Although the great effort by Jim Sturgess and Sam Worthington, they don't gave enough of what was expected from these kind of actors.

I think the movie could explore more the tension between the kidnappers, and the relation with the kidnapped.

It looked like i was watching a Documentary and recreation of the events.

Tomorrow ill forget this film, 5 out of 10 because its always a pleasure watching the one and only Sir. Anthony Hopkins.
I wondered why a movie with this cast didn't have a wider release, after watching it I can see why.5/10
"You know what your doing is completely stupid, unless you pull it off. In which case it could be completely brilliant." When a group of friends are denied a loan they are desperate for money. They come up with a plan to kidnap the founder of the Heineken beer company (Hopkins) and ask for a large ransom in exchange. What starts off as a great idea, little by little begins to unravel. This movie is based on a true story and this is something I knew nothing about. The movie itself started off good and I was interested but the longer it went on the less interested I seemed to get. I'm not sure why, the acting was good and the interactions between the kidnappers was entertaining but this was another movie that I had a hard time staying focused on. It really seemed to stumble toward the end and this was another movie that I was thankful that it wasn't longer. Overall, I wondered why a movie with this cast didn't have a wider release, after watching it I can see why. I disappointingly give this a C.