This film is based on the true story of the 1983 kidnapping of Amsterdam’s most iconic beer entrepreneur Freddy Heineken and his driver Ab Doderer by a bunch of local scoundrels who were rescued about three weeks later for a ransom of 35 million Dutch guilders. Yes! the largest ransom ever paid for one individual at that time. While it may seem films based on 'kidnappings' or 'desperate individuals forced into a crime' may have reached it saturation, director Daniel Alfredson (The Girl Who Played with Fire & The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest) may have just found a way to satisfy everyone, even with a 'been there, seen that' kind of predictability. Director Alfredson seems to have relied completely on the dynamics & chemistry of his assembled team of actors from different schools of thoughts, which in a way really works, as there is enough versatility to make their clashes believable.
The story follows a group of business construction partners Willem Holleeder (Sam Worthington), Cor Van Hout (Jim Sturgess), Jan “Cat” Boellard (Ryan Kwanten), Frans “Spikes” Meijer (Mark Van Eeuwen), and Martin “Brakes” Erkamps (Thomas Cocquerel), who decide to kidnap their local celebrity billionaire Freddy Heineken (Anthony Hopkins) after running their business into bankruptcy. Even after a long meticulous planning, the events leads to minor mishaps as they end up bringing in his chauffeur, Ab Doderer (David Dencik) along for the ride as well. You don't have to be an Einstein to figure out that troubles would come crawling in, despite the long planning of the event since the team members end up frequently arguing with one another and because Jan “Cat” Boellard , a family man, could give away the prize rather than make his family suffer. The best parts lie in the hideaway job. As Cat & Spikes built two soundproof chambers with hidden doors inside a shed, chaining Freddy Heineken to the wall, his chauffeur, Ab Doderer in the other room. While they wait impatiently for three weeks for the ransom to come through, they argue, more two one of the kidnappers suggesting that they release the men and call it a day. My main problem with the film relies in the whole episode of arrests which at first seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, but luckily gets cleared in the epilogue. In the whole team, everyone serves a purpose, and their motives are rarely hidden, but in the case of this true story, luckily the wave of predictability doesn’t wear it down & Yes! you may have even guessed the ending even before watching the film, so – what’s there to spoil?.
The performances - the titular character required someone larger than life, who better to play that other Sir Anthony Hopkins, he fits the role like a glove. Although his screen time is way limited than we desired, Hopkins still manages to stoke the fires of uncertainty through a performance that’s both devilish and clever (as always!). He almost resembles Hannibal Lecter – trapped, but never outwitted. Hopkins delivering his unrealistic demands to his kidnappers with a smile is the biggest treat of all. Jim Sturgess and Sam Worthington playing the two ringleaders excel in every frame. Eventhough its sad to see a once rising star Worthington playing second fiddle to Sturgess. Ryan Kwanten is likeable as the fidgety family man. Mark Van Eeuwen provides some much needed comic relief. Director Daniel Alfredson send us down for a test of mental wits between the abductors & the victim with a simple challenge - who will break first? A strong emphasis is put on the kidnapping itself, and while this seems like a no-brainer, similar films sometimes get lost in what’s truly important when creating criminal suspense. On the whole 'Kidnapping Mr. Heineken' may not reinvent the genre, frankly it does not try to appear smarter than it actually is! With very likeable performances & a pumping soundtrack, the film is escapist cinema at its best!