Film review: KIDNAPPING MR HEINEKEN, from ‘Built For Speed’

Apparently based on a true story, Kidnapping Mr Heineken is, like Snakes on A Plane, a film summed up by its title.  In 1983, a group of young small-time Dutch criminals led by Cor Van Hout (Jim Sturgess) and Willem Holleeder (Sam Worthington), decided that the best way to a quick buck was to kidnap someone with the means to pay an enormous ransom. Their chosen victim was Dutch brewing billionaire Freddy Heineken (Anthony Hopkins).  Locking him up in an abandoned warehouse they believed their plan to nab the beer supremo had been well thought out but they didn’t count on the destructive incompetence of their team members and the sly manipulative talents of their captive.

Kidnapping Mr Heineken is not sure if it wants to be a serious crime drama or a laddish caper film along the lines of Jason Statham’s The Bank Job. The film is mostly dour in tone like crime and espionage films of the early 1970’s but it also attempts to draw a few laughs from the group’s criminal incompetence.  

The film’s biggest problem is that it fails to build a compelling character drama into what is an unremarkable kidnap story.  Jim Sturgess is meant to be the film’s dramatic focus but with his porno moustache, bad peroxide job and wobbly accent that switches from Dutch to Cockney to Aussie to American, he’s more of a comical figure than a convincing criminal. Sam Worthington is more effective making Willem Holleeder an imposing mix of laid-back charm and volatile thuggery.  Oddly, though, Worthington makes no attempt to disguise his Australian accent.  Hopkins is magnetic when he’s on screen particularly when he taunts his captors Hannibal-Lecter style but he’s underused.The character who makes the biggest impression, though, is Mark van Eeuwen’s Frans ‘Spikes’ Meijer, the designated nervous weasel, who’s bumbling almost skittles the plan.  The rest of the cast, which includes Aussie Ryan Kwanten make little impact.

Swedish director Daniel Alfredson (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) makes effective use of both the attractive and the more grim looking Amsterdam locations even though he has shot the film entirely in muted blue-grey tones and has used a lot of woozy hand-held camera movements.  To his credit, despite the film’s 80’s setting, he hasn’t setting overindulged the period art direction.

Kidnapping Mr Heineken is a perfectly tolerable ‘meat and taters’ crime flick with a few tantalising snippets of vintage Hopkins but something more inventive would have been welcome.

Nick’s rating: ***.

Genre: Crime/ drama.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Daniel Alfredson.

Release date: 12th March 2015.

Running time: 95 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. 


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