Kidnapping Mr. Heineken
2.5/5aka Kidnapping Freddy Heineken
dir Daniel Alfredson
scr William Brookfield
prd Michael A Simpson, Howard Meltzer, Judy Cairo
with Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten, Anthony Hopkins, Mark van Eeuwen, Thomas Cocquerel, Jemima West, David Dencik, Dirk Roofthooft, Vera Van Dooren, Kat Lindsay, Roy McCrerey
release US 6.Mar.15, UK 3.Apr.15, Ned 25.Jun.15
15/Netherlands 1h35

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken
Amateur criminals: Sturgess and Worthington

kwanten hopkins dencil
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Kidnapping Freddy Heineken Based on a true story about the largest ransom ever paid, this film tries so hard to fit into the template of a standard thriller that it becomes strangely uninteresting, dragging out its story and straining to find points of emotional resonance. But while the events have the potential to make a great movie, this one only generates interest in one central relationship.

In 1982 Amsterdam, buddies Cor, Willem, Jan and Frans (Sturgess, Worthington, Kwanten and van Eeuwen) are desperate to save their failing construction company. Out of options, they plan a wildly ambitious crime: to kidnap the beer mogul Freddy Heineken (Hopkins) and demand $60 million ransom. Then once they take the plunge, they're frustrated that it takes so long to resolve, as days drag into weeks. Thinking it's an organised international crime ring, the company finally agrees to pay. But can amateurs pull off something this big?

Director Alfredson shoots this in a groovy, freewheeling filmmaking style that's so flashy that it isn't hugely easy to follow. At the same time, the action sequences feel oddly lacklustre, never quite cranking up enough energy to get the audience's adrenaline pumping. There are moments of panic and violence, but the pacing is so low-key that everything feels contrived. And these scruffy, clueless criminals are difficult to root for.

All of the actors deliver decent performances, although the variety of accented English is very odd. Sturgess is solid at the centre, doing this because his girlfriend (West), Willem's sister, is pregnant. And Worthington has some strong moments as a guy willing to risk everything for this one shot at security. Their friendship is the most compelling thing on-screen. But the film is stolen by Hopkins' snarky turn as the sarcastic, demanding prisoner who cares more about his chauffeur (Dencik) than himself.

As the story develops, the film only hints at its bigger themes about economic disparity, police inaction or gnawing mistrust between old pals when a lot of money is involved. As a result, it feels increasingly like a rather mediocre TV-movie heist thriller in dire need of a big final-act twist. And it strangely fails to draw any connection with the recent recession. So the restated message feels hollow: you can either have money or a lot of friends, but not both.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 23.May.15

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