Based on a true story Kidnapping Freddy Heineken (Mr. Heineken to our US friends) is fairly self-explanatory. Set in 1983, four down-on-their-luck criminals successfully kidnap the wealthiest man in the Netherlands, Alfred ‘Freddy’ Heineken (Anthony Hopkins). After imprisoning him and his driver they demand the largest ransom ever paid for an individual. We explore the kidnappers’ day-to-day lives as the cracks begin to appear under the stress of taking care of Heineken unnoticed. They soon start to question their morals as the risk of betrayal increases when the Police are slow to respond.
From a film that’s based on a book which is based on a true story it feels like we do miss a lot of the details. I never knew about the real incident so the film is informative but I do question its accuracy. The film (as is the book) is from the point of view of Cor van Hout (Jim Sturgess), the brains behind the plan. This means the audience have to understand the details of the kidnap and the aftermath, so you can see why it’s pretty important to do your research. There are places where these details are skimmed over and rushed so the audience have to try to catch up. Along with confusing accents, (they’re supposed to be Dutch, right?) it all feels a little muddled. Said that, it is nice to see a crime film with a really great core cast, set anywhere else other than London or America.
The cast (Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten, Mark van Eeuwen) are pretty great and their portrayal of these characters is entirely credible. Without them this film would not be salvageable, but when you have someone like Anthony Hopkins and underuse him then you should rethink. He steals the show (of course – it’s Anthony Hopkins!) and I would have liked to see more of him and how he responded and adapted to being kidnapped. There are some great scenes where we see him being scarily calm and others where he is terrified and those are the parts that stuck in my mind after viewing.
The plot is pretty straightforward but with the added pressure and development of the characters it does feel much more complex. We do learn more about them and it’s interesting to see how each of them reacts to stress, which causes some compelling scenes.
Kidnapping Freddy Heineken starts very strong as we jump into the kidnappers’ lives and completely misread their intentions and the situation. But this tension is lost as the film shifts gears and slows down almost to a halt before picking back up again. The few action scenes, complete with a car/boat race are so fun to watch and incredibly well shot. These scenes seem to better reflect the title of the film – to me, it sounded like it should have been much more epic. Showing the aftermath of the kidnapping is a smart choice indeed as that’s when we see the conflict and relationships better. With some very interesting, almost crazy, facts about the real life counterparts being revealed I almost felt the payoff.
The film certainly piqued my interest and made me want to know more. It was very informative on the event but it wasn’t the thrill I was expecting. It’s a decent enough film with an interesting concept and excellent cast. Worth a watch on a slow day.