Kidnapping Mr. Heineken (2015)
Editor’s Notes: Kidnapping Mr. Heineken is opens in limited release this Friday, March 6th.
Why would anyone want to rob a bank? What is it that drives someone to point of desperation to commit a crime when statistics tell them that it almost never ends well? If history has taught us anything, it is that it is cyclical. People keep making the same mistakes over and over. But why do they make them?
… a movie so disinterested it its story that the Wikipedia article will reward you with more entertainment than this 90-minute slog.
Take for example the kidnapping of one Freddy Heineken. The grandson of the man who founded Heineken International, Freddy was one of the richest individuals in the Netherlands and served as CEO of the company for 18 years. In 1983, a group of five men conspired together to kidnap Freddy Heineken, eventually releasing him in exchange for one of the biggest ransoms in history. The story of the caper and the those involved is chronicled in Kidnapping Mr. Heineken, a movie so disinterested it its story that the Wikipedia article will reward you with more entertainment than this 90-minute slog.
The story is told from the point of view of the five kidnappers, Cor Van Hout (Jim Sturgess), Willem Holleeder (Sam Worthington), Jan Boellard (Ryan Kwanten), Frans Meijer (Mark van Eeuwen) and Martin Erkamps (Thomas Cocquerel). That’s a lot of names. To recap, Jim Sturgess and Sam Worthington were cast in an attempt to draw people’s attention, and then three other lesser known actors (one of them was in True Blood, but that’s about as far as their mark on pop culture goes) were cast to save money to be put toward Anthony Hopkins’ salary.
It’s at this point that I should mention Anthony Hopkins is great in this movie. Though it initially seems as though Hopkins is a completely different film, it becomes readily apparent that the only facet of the script that screenwriter William Brookfield put any effort into was Heineken’s character. There is a wonderful mix of humor, fear, and upper class privilege that makes him shine in an otherwise murky film. Much like his character in Silence of the Lambs, Hopkins’ absence is felt whenever he is not onscreen. The only difference here is that it’s because the rest of the movie is crap.
Their decision to suddenly kidnap Heineken has no buildup or explanation; it just happens.
As for the other characters in the film, they are about as interesting as burnt toast. No effort is put into these guys at all. I couldn’t tell you without looking at IMDB what any of the characters names were, and the only reason I could tell two of the them apart was because I knew what Sturgess and Worthington looked like. Beyond that, they all blend together. Their decision to suddenly kidnap Heineken has no buildup or explanation; it just happens.
Sturgess and Worthington are fine enough, but they seem to be employing sides of their characters that were otherwise kept from the audience. There are points in the film where it clearly thinks its packing some sort of emotional punch, but there has been nothing leading up to the moment to help it earn anything but a yawn. Even the fates of their two characters feels like its missing some backstory. Like most everything else in the film, it’s just another plot point to check off.
Director Daniel Alfredson (The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest) was given a premise ripe with potential for exploring desperate men driven to commit crazy criminal acts. Kidnapping Mr. Heineken could have been a layered, fascinating look at the darker side of humanity and greed, but it is anything but. To its credit, the movie does present the idea that you can have money or friends but not both. Then again, like the one kid at the science fair who didn’t make a volcano, it is only interesting because everything else around it is so mundane and bereft of life.
Director Daniel Alfredson was given a premise ripe with potential for exploring desperate men driven to commit crazy criminal acts. Kidnapping Mr. Heineken could have been a layered, fascinating look at the darker side of humanity and greed, but it is anything but.