In 1983, Dutch businessman, chairman and CEO of the Heineken beer company, Freddy Heineken, was kidnapped by a group of men all bent on making a quick buck. Their scheme was almost a complete success as they were paid the largest ransom for a single person (35 million Dutch guilders or a little more than $17 million American dollars) but were caught later on. The new film Kidnapping Mr. Heineken presents this odd caper in a manner that is light, well-acted and peppered with the occasional comedic moment. It’s a movie that doesn’t really take itself seriously and makes the actual kidnapping seem like a mere punch line. Having said that, however, the film is average at best and should be seen for the solid acting contained within if not for anything else.
Middle-class working men Cor van Hout (Jim Sturgess), Willem Holleeder (Sam Worthington), Jan Boellard (Ryan Kwanten), Frans Meijer (Mark van Eeuwen) and Martin Erkamps (Thomas Cocquerel) are fed up with living an existence where they are underpaid and underappreciated. Unofficial leader of the pack, Cor, hatches a plan to kidnap Heineken (Anthony Hopkins) so that all five can prosper once they get paid their ransom. Along the way, Heineken attempts to outsmart his captors and the film focuses on the serious repercussions the foolish kidnappers eventually face.
Kidnapping Mr. Heineken suffers from a serious lack of identity. Sure, it’s about a kidnapping but the seriousness of that crime is painfully underplayed. Instead, we get a group of bickering, slightly dimwitted individuals who haven’t really got the slightest idea what they’re doing. This lack of foresight provides much of the film’s humor and it works at times, however, not all the time.
Anthony Hopkins plays Heineken as a cool and calm prisoner and as always, he gives a great performance. Jim Sturgess and Sam Worthington are also pretty decent here but they have done much better work in the past (Stonehearst Asylum, Avatar, etc). The banter all five kidnappers have is pretty funny and they do have natural chemistry. The only issue is the premise which isn’t funny at all and the five actors seem dreadfully out of place in the film. Perhaps if they were in a romantic comedy, all vying for the love of one woman, then would it be acceptable but here, they just don’t fit in.
It really is a shame that Kidnapping Mr. Heineken isn’t much better. I’m sure the actual event was more exciting than this because the energy in this film is severely lacking. The actors do their very best to elevate the proceedings but sadly, it’s not enough. Author of the book Kidnapping Freddy Heineken, Peter R. de Vries, screenwriter William Brookfield and director Daniel Alfredson have done their best with this film but it sadly falls short. All eyes should be on Hopkins since he definitely steals the show. Very few actors could have pulled off the role of Heineken and Hopkins really makes it his own. If you are a fan of Sturgess, Worthington and especially Hopkins, then this film is definitely worth your time. Otherwise, just skip it.