tue 22/05/2018

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken | reviews, news & interviews

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken

Anthony Hopkins sleep-walks into his cell as a captive lager magnate

Four walls: Freddy Heineken (Anthony Hopkins), reviewing the situation

There’s no shame in being a jobbing actor, but you can’t help missing the Anthony Hopkins who dissected repression with definitive, painful finesse, back when he was great. The Human Stain (2003) is the last I’ve seen of that, amongst the last decade’s Norse gods, Greek generals and judges. His turn as kidnapped lager tycoon Freddy Heineken resembles one of Larry Olivier’s later, international pay-cheques – as a project if not role, Wild Geese 2 comes unwelcomely to mind.

The story of Heineken’s 1983 kidnapping, 21 days of captivity, the paying of a then-record ransom and its strange aftermath is certainly worth telling, and this is the second recent, botched attempt. The Dutch 21 Days: The Heineken Kidnapping (2011) gave Rutger Hauer a much meatier role as a hedonistically raddled but potent protagonist, and used its greater length to examine the bizarre extradition games played on France and the Netherlands’ Caribbean colonial borders to finally bring the kidnappers to justice. Daniel Alfredson, director of the plodding Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sequels, concentrates almost wholly on the kidnap, but still finds time to waver shakily in tone.

When we first meet the gang of five led by Willem Holleeder (Sam Worthington) and Cor van Hout (Jim Sturgess, pictured above), they are supposedly lovable, squatter-evicting geezers straight out of early Guy Ritchie. Though all from Amsterdam, the international actors’ accents vary alarmingly (Aussie Worthington, pictured below, seems to be channelling an Apartheid-era South African goon). Holleeder’s back-story, with a sacked, ex-Heineken employee dad, is sketched in for what it’s worth, but the main asset Worthington brings to him is barely restrained physical threat. Sturgess is more soulfully vulnerable, but seems to be scrabbling in the dark for purchase on the role. Though Alfredson tries to inject some wider meaning into this criminal quintet as a band of brothers, the five actors feel like strangers.

Hopkins is first really seen in his cell from the rear, his appearance framed for significance. But his supposedly Lecter-like mind-games with his captors (“He’ll get into your head!” Sturgess is warned) are perfunctory. So is the kidnapping itself, in an era when the Baader-Meinhof gang and others made it a set-piece speciality. Alfredson brings a more focused, dour mood to the claustrophobic period of confinement, in which the captors are also mentally tethered to Heineken’s cell till the ransom is paid. But whatever was extraordinary about those 21 days isn’t in this incurious film. It plays like a dull TV-style British crime pic of the Seventies or Eighties, which has somehow snared current B-list stars.

Alfredson ends with a half-arsed attempt to position Holleeder and van Hout as the Butch and Sundance of Eighties Amsterdam. The problem is that, after jail for the Netherlands’ equivalent to the Great Train Robbery, they didn’t sell flowers at Waterloo station or make records with Sid Vicious, but became the Netherlands’ equivalent to the Krays. Holleeder is still bouncing in and out of jail, accused of often fatal extortions. That’s how Worthington plays him: a hint of reality in a grey, pointless concoction.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Kidnapping Freddy Heineken

Whatever was extraordinary about those 21 days isn’t in this incurious film


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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