It would be forgivable to assume that Kidnapping Mr Heineken was hastily scribbled on a children’s colouring book, as this film uses so many clichés and tropes it straddles a dangerous line of drama and parody.
The screenplay, written by William Brookfield, is based on the 1987 book The Kidnapping of Alfred Heineken and directed by Daniel Alfredson (The Girl Who Played with Fire).
It is set in Amsterdam in 1983 where five Dutch friends – Willem Holleeder (Sam Worthington), Cor van Hout (Jim Sturgess), Jan Boellard (Ryan Kwanten), Martin Erkamps (Thomas Cocquerel) and Frans Meijer (Mark van Eeuwen) – are struggling to make ends meet.
When they are rejected for a bank loan, they resort to crime: testing the waters by first robbing a bank before deciding they’re capable of kidnapping Heineken Beer owner Freddy Heineken (Anthony Hopkins) in order to get a significant ransom. Pressure builds as they successfully capture Heineken, including his driver Ab Doderer (David Dencik), however their inexperience begins to split up the group.
Based on true life events, this film fails to live up to its true potential. For a film with a star-studded cast which includes Sir Anthony Hopkins, it is surprisingly flat. Hopkins himself may be the only true saving grace of the film, throwing everything he has into his role, but ultimately it feels like little more than a cameo performance. Dencik deserved much more screen time too, providing a standout performance as a terrified hostage. The core actors do try their best, despite their fluctuating accents.
The script and direction are the ultimate let down. There is little dramatic tension built before it is resolved, rushing to get to the main crux of the story – however the audience never truly feels that either the victim nor the group are ever in any real turmoil. That may be the film’s downfall.
The biggest head-scratcher of the whole ordeal was why wasn’t the epilogue the actual story, as this seemed far more fascinating than the kidnapping, which should have acted as the entrée.
Perhaps they’ll do so in a sequel, but I’d rather hope a more competent storyteller tackles that project.
Reviewed by Adam Gerard
Rating out of 10: 3
Kidnapping Mr Heineken is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.