Kidnapping Freddy Heineken (2015)    0 Stars

“It was the perfect crime until they got way with it.”

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken (2015)
Kidnapping Freddy Heineken (2015)


Director: Daniel Alfredson

Cast: Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten

Synopsis: The inside story of the planning, execution, rousing aftermath and ultimate downfall of the kidnappers of beer tycoon Alfred “Freddy” Heineken, which resulted in the largest ransom ever paid for an individual.

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Jim Sturgess sports a dodgy blonde dye job in Kidnapping Freddy Heineken, a surprisingly lacklustre recreation of the real-life abduction of the business tycoon in the early 1980s. He’s Cor Van Hout, the nominal leader of a group of four friends who, in the film at least, find themselves running short of money when their construction business begins to fail. In reality, Van Hout and his mates were little more than thugs for hire who made a living forcibly evicting squatters for a fee. Van Hout was also known to have financed a number of bank robberies since 1977, but such facts are best ignored if a film is to have its audience on the side of its protagonists, particularly when the script allots purely generic character traits to the members of the gang.

After having their request for a bank loan turned down by a smug bank manager, the boys decide they must take drastic measures in order to obtain enough money to see them financially secure for the rest of their lives, and hit on the idea of kidnapping Freddy Heineken (Anthony Hopkins – The Elephant Man, Silence of the Lambs), Holland’s wealthiest man at the time. But having successfully abducted Heineken, the men find their friendship strained by the pressures of caring for their captives (they also abducted Heineken’s chauffeur), and maintaining the fiction of normality as they wait for the authorities to come up with the 35 million Guilders ransom money.

It seems like a plot with a built-in excitement factor, but Kidnapping Freddy Heineken stubbornly refuses to take off as it follows a disappointingly predictable path. It would have been a much stronger movie if it had focused more on the psychological games Heineken attempts to play with his captors, but Hopkins’ screen time is disappointingly limited, and you get the impression that screenwriter William Brookfield simply didn’t have the confidence to pursue this strand.

(Reviewed 26th August 2015)

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