A very famous kidnapping case which I must confess to never hearing anything about; Freddy Heineken, he of the beer fame was in fact taken hostage in 1983 for three weeks. Kidnapping Freddy Heineken is a fictionalised account of the event based on a book by journalist Peter R. de Vries who wrote the book from the perspective of kidnapper Cor Van Hout.
Directed by Daniel Alfredson who previously brought us the made for TV versions of The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, it seems he’s still developing his cinematic eye. We are along for the ride with Van Hout (Jim Sturgess) and his gang which also includes Willem Holledeer (Sam Worthington). We see there attempts to keep their legitimate business afloat during uncertain economic times before they exhaust all rational solutions and decided to form a gang to kidnap the alcohol industrialist played by Anthony Hopkins.
The film’s opening scenes of hard working men driven to extreme measures filmed through a cold, hard colour palette gives way to standard kidnapping film troupes. Having Anthony Hopkins play the titular Freddy should tell you everything you need to know about the interplay between hostage and taker. He commands the scenes with just a flick of his wrist using death stares and husky smirks. Pretty much how Anthony Hopkins acts these days in general, all the while Same Worthington does what he does… intense and constantly annoyed at something or someone. To be fair to him it’s one of his better performances but it’s still not saying much. Jim Sturgess goes someway to creating a fully rounded character, but a lot of that work does involve us sympathising with this poor kidnapper’s plight, the effect it has on his family, his life, the poor man… then in the coda we’re told he became a criminal “Godfather”. Well then, I’ll take my empathy somewhere else then.
The main issue perhaps with the film isn’t that it’s necessarily a bad film. It’s just incredibly average. There’s something of a dark tale about men driven to commit violent deeds mixed in with a power struggle between power hostage and weak kidnapper but all these points feel washed over as Alfredson feels as though he’s trying to get out of each scene as quick as he can before letting any drama come forth.
Is it drama? Is it crime thriller? Kidnapping Freddy Heineken doesn’t seem to know either. It’s really one of those films where images are present on screen but there’s little else to entice you. It’s very likely you’ll forget about it soon after watching. I only finished it thirty minutes ago and already large chunks of it have escaped my memory. The only reason it fails from being a total wash out is that I didn’t find myself getting angry at it like other recent “crime” film. Take a bow Hackney’s Finest. Ummmm, thought I had something else to say there, I don’t as. As you were.
Dir: Daniel Alfredson
Scr: William Brookfield
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Kwantan
Prod: Judy Cairo, Howard Meltzer, Michael A. Simpson
DOP: Fredrik Backar
Music: Lucas Vidal
Run time: 95 mins
Distributor: Signature Entertainment