2015 / Director. Daniel Alfredson.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
KIDNAPPING MR HEINEKEN tells the true story of one of modern history's most infamous kidnapping cases. In 1983 five Dutch men plotted and executed the brazen abduction and kept Freddy Heineken and his chauffeur captive for a month. Heineken was one of the wealthiest men in the Europe and the plan was to claim the hefty ransom and disappear. Of course being a true story the details of the case are well known and anyone familiar with it will know the outcome. It was a case so notorious that an adaptation was inevitable and in 1987 a true crime book was written, followed by this film.
The ensemble cast is lead by Jim Sturges, Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten and Anthony Hopkins as Freddy Heineken. On the billboard they appear to be a formidable line up, however in practice they're quite underwhelming. I've never been a fan of Sam Worthington however I have a lot of time for Sturges and Kwanten (and Hopkins speaks for himself). Sadly, while each of these players have their moments of clarity, their performances are lost in the fold. There is no one stand-out here and most of them may as well have phoned it in.
The director is Daniel Alfredson whose most notable films have been THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNEST'S NEST. Both good films, but neither as good as their predecessor in the series. KIDNAPPING MR HEINEKEN is his first English-speaking film and for a first crack, it's acceptable. All of the typical heist/kidnapping tropes are present and the movie looks and feels like a bunch of stuff we've already seen before (THE BANK JOB comes to mind). Where it does make good is in its production design and cinematography. The setting is beautifully captured and the dank European streets give the story an authentic atmosphere, that's very easy to watch.
I would also direct another compliment towards the decision to do away with the Dutch accents. Being set in Amsterdam the actors could have all been given accents to play with, however, a choice was made for them to use their real accents and so the onus is on the viewer to understand and accept this practice. This method allows the players to focus on their performance without the added pressure of focusing on their speech patterns. If only they had all exploited this advantage they could have delivered some sensational performances.
As it stands KIDNAPPING MR HEINEKEN is a passable true crime film. It's polished and well shot and will satisfy people who have a tolerance for style over substance. I enjoyed it but didn't love it. It's a story that fascinated me but I wish it were told better. I may return to it one day but can't see it happening soon.