Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken - film review

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken is a film from last year which didn't refresh the parts of cinema audiences that other movies fail to reach. Received with some indifference, it soon made its way on to television, where I watched it recently. In fact, it's not by any means a bad film, though it is lacking in high quality - despite the presence in the cast of the great Anthony Hopkins,who plays the eponymous beer tycoon and kidnap victim with his customary verve.

The film is based on real life events which took place in Amsterdam in the early 80s. A bunch of five incompetent-seeming young men have run into financial trouble, and the banks refuse to bail out their failing business. An attempt to drive some squatting punks out of their company property is crudely and ineptly handled, and so the quintet need to find some other way to make ends meet.

The solution they come up with is to kidnap Freddy Heineken, and demand a multi-million ransom. Their ineptitude is such that it comes as a surprise when they manage to pull off the crime - also kidnapping the tycoon's chauffeur. The police struggle to make progress, but things start to go wrong when the villains become anxious about a delay in obtaining the ransom.

Jim Sturgess and Sam Worthington are the two principal conspirators. However, a major problem with the film is that we never really empathise with the kidnappers - in fact, the other three are ciphers. If the action were sufficiently compelling, this flaw in the screenplay might not matter too much, but overall, I felt that script did not live up to the potential of the premise. Kidnapping is a crime that engages the emotions, but the screenwriter never managed to capture this. So although the film is quite well made, I can understand why it didn't achieve success at the box office. 

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