A movie review of “Kidnapping Mr. Heineken”: Anthony Hopkins ferments a fine rage in this entirely-too-straightforward caper picture. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
Anthony Hopkins ferments a fine rage in “Kidnapping Mr. Heineken.” As mega-rich Dutch brewery mogul Alfred “Freddy” Heineken, his quicksilver flashes of temper are worthy of other Hopkins creations, even the demigod Odin in the “Thor” movies.
Freddy Heineken was a man used to getting his way. He might labor to present a calm, unworried face to his kidnappers. But inside, he was seething, plotting and trying to reason his way out of the fix he found himself in back in 1982.
Hopkins’ Heineken is the most interesting character in this entirely-too-straightforward caper picture from the Swedish director Daniel Alfredson, who helmed the last two “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” movies. It’s a shame the true-heist tale isn’t really about Heineken, but about the generic, younger and in-over-their-heads building contractors who nabbed Freddy and demanded the highest ransom ever paid up to that time.
Movie Review ★★
‘Kidnapping Mr. Heineken,’ with Jim Sturgess, Anthony Hopkins, Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten, Mark van Eeuwen. Directed by Daniel Alfredson, from a screenplay by William Brookfield, based on a book by Peter R. de Vries. 94 minutes. Rated R for language throughout. Southcenter 16.
Jim Sturgess is the ringleader, Cor, a man who lost the business he shared with three other guys (Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten and Mark van Eeuwen) in a recession. The bank won’t lend them money; the authorities won’t let them evict the squatters who have taken over the one building they own together as collateral. Cor pitches a kidnapping scheme to tide them over.
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Early 1980s Europe had terrorist gangs pulling jobs just like this, so Willem (Worthington) insists that they “look professional” about it. They’ll hit a bank first to finance the kidnapping.
Alfredson stages the bank robbery and the kidnapping that follows with verve — World War II-vintage machine guns blazing, a chase along Amsterdam’s canals. The script elects to not spend much time on the planning, hiding the details of what they’re trying to pull as a way of ratcheting up the tension and surprising us with the action. That almost works.
What comes later, though, dominates the film — a long waiting game, with the occasional nakedly cunning moment when Heineken promises them a clean escape if they’ll let him and his driver go. Tensions mount, fissures open in the gang.
It’s a good-looking film, just a tad on the dull and predictable side. But the occasional flash of Hopkins threatens, at several moments, to turn this formulaic tale into something more psychological, more pathological or at least allegorical. He isn’t really given the chance.