In 1983, a group of childhood friends pulled off the crime of the century: kidnapping one of the richest men in the world, the heir of the Heineken beer empire (Anthony Hopkins). The shocking capture--by gunpoint in broad daylight on the streets of Amsterdam--resulted in the largest ransom ever paid for a kidnapped individual. It was truly the perfect crime...until they got away with it. Based on a true story, 'Kidnapping Mr. Heineken' also stars Anthony Hopkins, Sam Worthington, Jim Sturgess and Ryan Kwanten.
This film is based on such a bizarre crime, that it almost seems unreal. ‘Kidnapping Mr. Heineken‘ or ‘Kidnapping Freddy Heineken‘ as it’s known in some foreign markets, is the true life story of a group of friends who decide to kidnap the owner of Heineken Beer and force a ransom for millions of dollars. This crime actually happened back in the early 80s in the Netherlands.
It’s a decent enough story, however director Daniel Alfredson never brings any of the characters to life, nor does the story have any real intent other than just showing what happened, before abruptly ending after the last person was arrested. Alfredson is a great director too. His resume includes a couple of the original versions of ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo‘ series where his younger brother Thomas directed the original ‘Let The Right One In‘ film as well as ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy‘.
So neither Daniel or his brother Thomas are exactly lightweights. But with ‘Kidnapping Mr. Heineken‘, Alfredson really only wanted to show the actual events with no depth whatsoever. The cast is solid as well, with Sir Anthony Hopkins being chained and confined to a cell through most of the film as he plays Mr. Heineken. His kidnappers are played by Jim Sturgess (‘Across the Universe‘), Sam Worthington (‘Avatar‘), Ryan Kwanten (‘True Blood‘), amongst a couple others.
This group of friends seem to be paid by some unknown person to evict and literally throw out squatters living in condemned housing. But these guys want more money and decide to kidnap the wealthiest person for a big ransom. That lucky person is Freddy Heineken of the beer company of the same name. They want to come across as professionals, which they are anything but, so they rob a bank to secure financing to build a sound proof room to make it look like an organized crime outfit executed this job.
I’m sure you already know the outcome or can read it about it in a number of books, but was it worth making a film about? While the answer may be “yes”, there needs to be some sort of depth to the characters other than that one of their girlfriend’s is pregnant. Beyond that aspect, each kidnapper might as well be the same exact person. There just isn’t much to work with, which is a shame. Sir Anthony Hopkins turns in a great performance, but is on screen for only a few minutes, and doesn’t give us time to connect or sympathize with him whatsoever. At the very end of the film, which ends abruptly, there are title cards for each character of what eventually happened with them. The two lead kidnappers went to prison for a decade, but upon being released became the leaders of the biggest and most vicious mafias in the Netherlands.
This would have made for such a better movie to see their rise to power with this kidnapping starting the entire reign of terror. Why they didn’t make that, I’ll never know. But as this film goes, ‘Kidnapping Mr. Heineken‘ doesn’t amount to much other than watching a few people kidnap a wealthy person and struggle with whether or not to release him or wait for the ransom money.
'Kidnapping Mr. Heineken' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.39:1 aspect ratio. This image is not as sharp or vivid as it should be. In fact, it's very grainy, soft, and flat. I'm not sure if this was the intended purpose of the filmmaker, since this crime was committed back in 1983, but with the way it looks, it seems like decades earlier. And since there are virtually no extras here to tell us anything about the movie, I assume this is not a particularly good transfer.
In extreme closeups under sufficient lighting, you'll be able to make out certain details, such as a few individual hairs on Anthony Hopkins's messy white hair, but other than that, detail is grainy and fuzzy with pretty much zero depth. I was hoping for the car chase scene in the middle of the city would add a bit of pizzazz in the form of detail, depth or even color, but that's not the case. Speaking of the color palette, it's very dull and dreary with tons of moldy grays, faded blues, and sickly orange tints. It's almost like being in a rusty and gloomy basement apartment with one lamp from thirty years ago. And when we're outside in the city, it's always dark and overcast.
Needless to say, this image definitely doesn't pop. In fact, the only scenes that show an ounce of color are seem when we are inside the man made chamber where Anthony Hopkins is being held. Black levels struggle with being inky and the skin tones look a little darker than normal. There was some light banding here and there, but no real other major issues.
This release comes with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mix along with an option for a 2.0 track. The 5.1 option is the way to go, as it sounds much more energetic with a better low range when the action heats up. This track is solid at best, but will never cross into that "excellent" category. This is mostly a dialogue driven movie with the exception of a one big car chase scene with tons of gun fire.
It never delivers a very robust or full sound, but it gets the job done. Sound effects sound realistic, but never pack a big punch. The ambient noises of the city come through sparingly as well. This is mostly a front heavy track, but in the bigger action sequence, the rear speakers do kick in. Dialogue is clear and easy to follow at all times, however there were a couple of instances where it was difficult to hear the dialogue over the sound effects. There were no pops, cracks, or hissing throughout.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 7 Mins.) - Six deleted scenes in total without a 'Play All' option, which is annoying. Most of these scenes involve more time with Jemima West, but none of them are worth watching.
Trailers (HD, 10 Mins.) - Trailers for 'Kidnapping Mr. Heineken' as well as a few other titles.
'Kidnapping Mr. Heineken' is a great story that just so happened to be true. However, this movie literally just shows the inception of the idea, the actual kidnapping, and abruptly ends once everyone is caught. There were no real motivations or character development involved here to make us sympathize with or hate any of the actions or characters. It was just a simple "this is what happened and that's it" type of scenario. And the text at the end of the film that tells us the two main kidnappers went on the be the most notorious gangsters in Amsterdam would have made for a much more compelling and fun story. While the story is interesting, the film is not. The video and audio are both less than stellar, and the only extras are a couple of deleted scenes, which don't add anything to the story. If you're interested, this is a rental at best.