Wondering what “Kidnapping Mr. Heineken” is all about? The title says it all, which is too bad because it feels like they left out the most interesting part of the story.
Set in 1982, this true crime drama stars Sam Worthington as Willem Holleeder, Jim Sturgess as Cor van Hout, Ryan Kwanten as Jan Boellaard and Mark van Eeuwen as Frans Meijer, down-on-their-luck owners of a construction company. To raise some quick cash they turn to a life of crime and kidnap one of the richest people in the Netherlands, Freddy Heineken (Anthony Hopkins), chairman of the board of directors and CEO of Heineken International. They’re chuffed when the news refers to them as dangerous, professional crooks but amateur mistakes and personality clashes ultimately put an end to their newfound criminal careers.
Since this is based on true events, the movie ends with updates as to what all the characters got up to after the kidnapping caper. Some went to jail, one escaped from a mental institution and fled to Paraguay while Holleeder and van Hout went on to become the notorious Godfathers of the Netherlands, as in Dutch crime kingpins. That sounds more interesting than the kidnapping story and yet it is only alluded to in the film’s closing moments.
Instead we’re told a movie-of-the-week kidnapping story about a group of wannabes torn apart by greed and paranoia. Heineken, trying to get under the skin of his captors, tells them, “There are two ways to be rich in this world. You can have a lot of money or you can have a lot of friends—but you can’t have both.” He’s right. The 35 million guilder ransom cleaves the tight knit group, but despite the film’s prominent heart-pounding score, there’s no real drama to much of it. There are car chases and rubber masks, which all feel like movie action circa 1982 when the film is set, but the story is as flat as an open Heineken left in the midday sun.