AM At The Movies: ‘Kidnapping Mr. Heineken’

Above: Jim Sturgess and Sam Worthington as Cor van Hout and Willem Holleeder in 'Kidnapping Mr. Heineken'

The kidnapping of Freddy Heineken took place in November 1983, and quickly gained international recognition as the largest ransom payout in European history, paying the demanded 35 million Dutch guilders. Kidnapping Mr. Heineken is that story.

A good heist movie normally contains an elaborate scheme, with the audience being left out of the full plan until it comes to fruition. They’re epic, exhilarating, and quite clever.

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken doesn’t exactly fit that mold. It doesn’t have the elaborate, cunning heist storyline of The Italian Job or Ocean’s Eleven. The ‘based on a true story’ aspect limits the film. The events in the film happened, and as real life tends to go, not everything runs smoothly or wraps up nicely at the end.

This film is really about a group of friends who are willing to risk everything for a big payoff. This group of amateur criminals steps it up from petty to organized crime. Way back when in the early ‘80s these criminals were ready to live the dream and willing to steal cars, vans, boats, and rob banks all to catch the whale of a prize.

The casting and acting in this film are top-notch. The kidnappers consists of Cor van Hout, Willem Holleeder, Jan Boelaard, Frans Meijer, and Martin Erkamps (Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten, Mark van Eeuwen, Thomas Cocquerel respectively).

Cor van Hout is the brains and lead of the operation. He isn’t a bad guy, but he takes to crime as a way to combat his believed injustice in the system. He wasn’t willing to work his ass off to barely scraping by. Kidnapping Mr. Heineken wasn’t a vindictive crime, but a business transaction only half thought through.

Anthony Hopkins is nothing short of brilliant as Freddy Heineken. The cheekily demanding billionaire doesn’t make life easy for his kidnappers.

In one of Hopkins’ ‘I’m clearly smarter than you’ speeches (to mess with his captors) he says, “there are two ways a man can be rich in this world. He can have a lot of money, or a lot of friends, but he cannot have both.” It’s one of those times when a movie is screaming of foreshadowing.

The film starts off as a crime-action movie, with some drama but for the most part it’s about the kidnapping. By the midpoint, the film takes a shift and leans much more towards the drama that arises after successfully kidnapping someone.

While the film is truly quite enjoyable, it probably tries to be too much at once. It feels torn between the crime and the emotional drama. Also, while Jim Sturgess plays the lead, there is a lack of defined leadership amongst the pack of men. Sam Worthington and Ryan Kwanten (the most recognizable faces of the gang) steal the focus from the leading man, and you never get enough time with any one person to form the antihero role the film needs.

You can find faults with most any movie but Kidnapping Mr. Heineken is good and worth the watch.

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