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Kidnapping Mr. Heineken

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken: Small Time Thriller Delivers Occasional Big Time Thrills

  • Anthony HopkinsJim Sturgess...
  • DramaThriller
  • Daniel Alfredson
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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Kidnapping Mr. Heineken: Small Time Thriller Delivers Occasional Big Time Thrills

Chronicling the story of the famous 1983 abduction of the Dutch beer mogul and millionaire Alfred ‘Freddy’ Heineken and his chauffer Ab Doderer, Kidnapping Mr. Heineken – if you can manage to look past some of its shortcomings – is a relatively entertaining and watchable thriller.

Sourced from Peter R. de Vries’ book titled, The Kidnapping of Alfred Heineken, the story is centered on Cor Van Hout (21’s Sturgees), Willem Holleeder (Avatar’s Worthington), Jan Boellard (True Blood’s Kwanten), Martin Erkamps (Cocquerel) and Frans Meijer (van Eeuwen); five close friends who have been down in a financial rut for quite some time.

After a losing their investment in an apartment building to an army of squatters, the boys – when refused yet another bank loan – are desperate to make some real money. With no other option at their disposal – the prospect of getting a real job is definitely out of the question – Cor soon masterminds a plan;  kidnap one of the richest men in Netherlands, Alfred Heineken (Hopkins) and hope that a hefty ransom will be paid for his safe return.

After pulling off a quick bank robbery to finance their mission, the gang soon swings into action and manages to accomplish the kidnapping of the century; dumping the tycoon and his driver into their self-built safe house – located in Jan’s boat-shed on the outskirts of Amsterdam – all the group has to do now is wait and hear back about the payoff. However, the waiting game proves to be rather tricky and one by one, the troop begins to crack under pressure.

Directed by Daniel Alfredson – see The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – the film is told entirely through the perspective of the kidnappers and although, that maybe a little off-putting or even strange for some audiences to grasp – the approach is rather refreshing.  Taking very little time before diving right into the heart of things, Kidnapping Mr. Heineken is set on the streets – and canals – of Amsterdam and its eighties backdrop is depicted with enough grit and detail to make it look and feel authentic.

However, given the fact that the story is conveyed strictly through the eyes of the abductors, their backstories are not really given the same treatment and some of their overly-long expositions can come across as forced and shamelessly irrelevant to the overall plot. Still, the performances are solid; Sturgees is charming as the group leader and Worthington is convincing as his loyal sidekick.  Unfortunately, though, Hopkins’ presence is not really felt and the seventy-seven Oscar winner, although flawless in every scene, is shamefully underused.

But, what saves the day is the story’s mood and that nervy energy which can be felt throughout the minutes. It’s far from perfect, but Kidnapping Mr. Heineken still proves to be a generally likable and engaging small-time thriller, regardless of its imperfections.    

Like This? Try

The Heineken Kidnapping (2011), Suicide Kings (1997), The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

360 Tip

The green Heineken bottles used in the movie are not period correct. At that time in the Netherlands, Heineken was only sold in brown bottles.

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